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Full text of "Geographical memoir upon upper California / by John Charles Fremont, addressed to the Senate of the United States in 1848. To which are now added, extracts from Hakluyt's collection of voyages, La Peyrouse's voyage, Venega's history of California, Harris's collection of voyages, Von Langdorff's travels, Alcedo's Geographical and historical dictionary, Hastings's Guide to Oregon and California, Farnham's Life and adventures in California, the President's message to Congress, December 5, 1848, Col. Mason's report to the secretary of war, Letter of the Rev. Walter Colton, August 29, 1848, Certificate of the mint, letter of Thomas O. Larkin, late consul at Monterey, letter from Com. Jones to the secretary of the navy, Oct. 25 1848. Editor of the Oregon spectator--his account of Oregon /By William McCarty"

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Form 3427 

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30th Congress, [SENATE*.] Miscellaneous. 

Session. No. 148. 




IN' illustration of his 


B Y 









Juke 5, 1848 . 

Resolved, That the Secrotarj' of the Senate be authorized to contract for lithographing 
and printing twenty thousand copies of J. C. Fremont’s Map of Oregon and California, 
reduced from the original according to the projection to -be furnished by the said J. C. 

Resolved, That there be printed, for the use of the Senate, the same number of copies 
of J. C. Fremont’s Geographical Memoir on Upper California, and in illustration of his 
Map of Oregon and California ; the manuscript and printing of said memoir to be subject 
to the revision and correction of the author. 


Secretary of the Senate. 

June 15 , 1848 . 

Resolved, That there be printed, for the use of the Topographical Bureau, one hundred 
copies of Frtunont’s Map of Oregon and California, and the same number of Fremont’s 
Geographical Memoir (in illustration of his map) of Upper Califernia. . 


Secretary of the Senate. 


On the second day of Februaryj in the year 1847, during my ab- 
sence on my third expedition of topographical survey, in the 
western part of. this continent, a resolve was passed by the Senate 
directing the construction of two maps — one of the central section 
of the Rocky mountains, and the other of Oregon and Upper Cali- 
fornia — from the materials collected by me in the two previous ex- 
peditions, and with the additions which the then existing expedi- 
tion might furnish; and Mr. Charles Preuss, my assistant in the 
first and second expeditions, was employed to commence the work. 

On my return to the United States, in the month of September 
last, I found Mr. Preuss closely engaged upon the work on which 
the Senate had employed him; and, from that time to the present, 
I have myself given all the time that could be spared from other 
engagements to supply the additions which the last expedition has 
enabled me to make. Conceiving that the map of Oregon and 
California was of the most immediate and pressing importance, I 
first directed my attention tcf its preparation, in order to bring it 
into a condition as soon as possible to be laid before the Senate; 

; which is now done. 

In laying this map of Oregon and Upper California before the 
Senate, I deem it proper to show the extent and general character 
of the work, and how far it may be depended on as correct, as 
being founded on my own or other surveys, and how far it is con- 
jectural, and only presented’as the best that is known. 

In extent, it embraces the whole western side of this continent 
j between the eastern base of the Rocky mountains and the Pacific 
ocean, and between the straits of Fuca and the Gulf ofc California, 
taking for its outline, on the north, the boundary line with Great 
Britain, and on the south, including the bay of San Diego, the head' 
of the gulf of California, the rivers Colorado and Gila, and all the 
country through which the line of the late treaty with Mexico 
would run, from El Paso del Norte to the sea. To complete the 
view in that quarter, the valley of the Rio del Norte is added, from 
the head of the river to El Paso del Norte, thereby including New 
Mexico. The map has been constructed expressly to exhibit the 
two countries of Oregon and the Alta California together. It is 
believed to be the most correct that has appeared of either of them; 
and it is certainly the only one that shows the structure and con- 
figuration of the interior of Upper California. 

The part of the map which exhibits Oregon is chiefly copied 


[ 148 ] 

from the ■works of others-, but not entirely, my own explorations 
in that territory having extended to nearly ' two thousand miles. 
The part which exhibits California, and especially the Great Basin,' 
the Sierra Nevada, the beautiful valley of Sacramento and San 
Joaquin, is chiefly from my own surveys or personal view, and in, 
such cases is given as correct. Where my own observations did 
not extend, the best authorities have been followed. 

The profile view in the margin, on the north side of the map, 
exhibits the elevations of the country from the South Pass in the 
Rocky mountains to the bay of San Franciscc, passing the Utah 
and the Great Salt lake, following the river Humboldt through the 
northern side of the Great Basin, crossing the Sierra Nevada into 
the valley of the Sacramento, where the emigrant road now crosses 
that sierra forty miles north of Nueva Helvetia. This line shows 
the present travelling route to California. The profile on the 
south side of the map exhibits the elevations of the country on a 
different line — the line of exploration in thcvlast expedition — from 
the head of the Arkansas by the Utah and Salt lake, and through 
the interior of the Great Basin, crossing th,e Sierra Nevada into 
the Sacramento valley at the head of the Rio de los Americanos. 
These profile views are given -merely for their outlines^ to show 
the structure of the country between the Rocky mountains and the 
sea, and the rise and fall occasioned by mountains and valleys. 
Full and descriptive profile views on a large scale are wanted, 
marking the geological structure of the country, and exhibiting at 
their proper altitudes the different products of the vegetable king- 
dom. Some material is already collected for such a purpose, ex- 
tending on different lines from the Mississippi to the Pacific, but 
not sufficient to complete the work. 

The Arabic figures on different parts of the map indicate the el- 
evation of places above the level of the sea; a knowledge of which 
is essential to a just conception of the climate and agricultural ca- 
pacities of a country. 

The longitudes established on the line of exploration of thie last 
expedition are based on a series of astronomical observations, 
resting on four main positions, determined by lunar culminations. 
The first of these main positions is at the mouth of the Fontaine 
qui Bouit river, on the Upper Arkansas; the second is on the eastern 
shore of the G^leat Salt lake, and two in the valley of the Sacramento, 
at the western base of the Sierra Nevada. This line of astronomical 
observations, thus carried across the continent, reaches the Pacific 
ocean on the northern shore of the bay of Monterey. 

In my published map, of the yetir 1845, the line of the western 
coast was laid down according to Vancouver. When the newly 
established positions were placed on the map now laid before 
the Senate, it was found that they carried the line of the coast 
about fourteen miles west, and the valleys of the Sacramento 
and San Joaquin about twenty miles east; making an increase 
of more than thirty miles in the breadth of the country be- 
low the Sierra Nevada. Upon examination, it was found that 
these positions agreed, nearly, with the observations of Captain 


[ 148 ] 

Beechey, at Monterey. The corrections required by the new po- 
sitions were then accordingly ma-de; the basin of the Sacramento' 
and San Joaquin valleys was removed to the eastward, and the line 
of the coast projected farther west, conformably to my obser- 
vations, retaining the configuration given to it by the surveys of 

The error in the position of the San Joaquin, Shcramento, and 
Wahlahmath valleys still exists upon the most authentic maps ex- 
tant; and it appears that, upon the charts in general use, a greatly 
erroneous position is still given to the coast. ' 

By the return of the United States sloop-of-war Portsmouth, Com- 
mander 'Montgomery, from the Pacific ocean, it is learned that two 
British ships of war are now engaged in making a new survey of 
the gulf and coast of California. It is also known that an Amer- 
ican whale ship was recently lost on the coast of California in 
consequence of the errors in the charts now in general. use, lo- 
cating the coast and islands, from Monterey south, too far east.'*' 

The astronomical observations made by me across the continent, 
in this my third expedition, were calculated by Professor Hubbard, 
of the national observatory, (Washington city,) during the present 
winter; and a note from him On the subject of these observations 
is added as an appendix to this memoir. My attention having been 
recently called to this subject, (the true position of the coast of 
California,) I find it worthy of remark that the position given to 
this’coast on th-e charts of the old Spanish navigators agrees nearly 
with that which would be assigned to it by the observations of the 
most eminent naval surveyors of the present day. The position 
adopted for Monterey and the adjacent coast, on the map now laid, 
before the Senate, agrees nearly with that in which it had been 
placed by the observations of Malaspina^j in 1791. 

In constructing this map it became necessary to adopt the coast 
line of the Pacific, as found in maps in general use, to give it com- 
pleteness. It was no part of i^y design to make a chart of the coast. 
Finding an error when I came to lay down the Bay of Monterey, 
I altered my map to suit it. I knew nothing then of any errors in 
the coast. It is satisfactory now to find that my astronomical ob- 
servations correspond with those previously made by Beechey and 
Belcher, and very gratifying to be able to add some testimonial to 

•Naval. — The United States sloop-of-war Portsmouth, Commander John B. Montgomery, 
arrived at Boston on Friday, from the Pacific ocean, last from Valparaiso, February 23. 
Commander Montgomery states that the British frigate “Herald,” and the brig “Pandora,” 
are engaged in making a new survey of the gulf and coast of California. * 

The whale shi^ “Hope,” of Providence, was recently lost on the, in consequence of 
an error in the charts now in general use, which locate the coast and islands from Monterey 
to Cape St. Lucas from fifteen to forty "miles too far to the eastward . — National Intel- 

tOf this skilful, intrepid, and unfortunate navigator, Humboldt (Essay on New Spain) 
says: ^ 

“The peculiar merit of his expedition consists not only in the number of astronomical ob- 
servations, but principally in the judicious method which was employed to arrive at certain 
results. The longitude and latitude of four points on the coast (Cape San Luca,?, Mon- 
terey, Nootka, and Fort Mulgrave) .were fixed in an absolute manner.” 


[ 148 ] 

the correctness of those made by Malaspina long before either of 
them. Vancouver removed the coast line as fixed by Malaspina, 
and the subsequent observations carry it back. ' 

In laying this map before the Senate, and in anticipation of the 
full work which ray explorations (with some further examinations) 
may enable me to draw up hereafter, I deem it a proper accom- 
paniment to the map to present some brief notices of California, 
with a view to show the character of the country, and its capa- 
bility or otherwise to sustain a considerable population. In doing 
this, no general remarks applicable to the whole of California can 
be used. The diversity in different parts is too great to admit of 
generalization in the description. Separate views of different parts 
must be taken; and in this br^ef sketch, the design is to limit the 
view to the two great divisions of the country which lie on the op- 
posite sides of the Sierra Nevada, and to the character of that 
mountain itself, so prominent in the structure of the country, and 
exercising so great an influence over the climate, soil, and produc- 
tions of its two divisions. , 


This Sierra is part of the great mountain range, which, under 
different names and with different elevations, but with much uni- 
formity of direction and general proximity to the coast, extends 
from the peninsula of California to Russian America, and without a 
gap in the distance through which the water of the Rocky mountains 
could reach the Pacific ocean, except at the two places where the 
Columbia and Frazer.’s river respectively find their passage. This 
great range is remarkable for its length, its proximity and parallel- 
ism to the sea coast, its great elevation, often more lofty than the 
Rocky mountains, and its many grand volcanic peaks, reaching 
high into the region of perpetual snow. Rising singly, like pyra- 
mids, from heavily timbered plateaux, to the height of fourteen and 
seventeen thousand feet above the sea, these snowy peaks consti- 
tute the characterizing feature of the range, and distinguish it from 
the Rocky mountains and all others on our part of the continent. 

That part of this range which traverses the Alta California is 
called the Sierra JVevada, (Snowy mountain) — a name in itself im- 
plying a great elevation, as it is only applied, in Spanish geography, 
to the mountains whose summits penetrate the region of perpetual 
snow. It is a grand feature of California, and a dominating one, 
and must be well understood before the structure of the country 
and the character of its different divisions can be comprehended. 
It divides California into two parts, and exercises a .decided influ- 
ence on the climate, soil, and productions of each. Stretching 
along the coast, and at the genet al distance of 150 miles from it, 
this great mountain wall receives the warm winds, charged with 
vapor, which sweep across the Pacific ocean, precipitates their ac- 
cumulated moisture in fertilizing rains and snowS*upon its western 
flank, and leaves cold and dry winds to pass on to the east. Hence 
the characteristic differences of the two regions — mildness, fer- 

7 [ 148 ] 

tility, and a superb vegetable kingdom on one side, comparative 
barrenness and cold on the other. 

The two, sides of the Sierra exhibit two distinct climates. The 
state of vegetation, in connexion with some thermometrical obser- 
vations made during the recent exploring expedition to California, 
will establish and illustrate this difference. In the beginning of 
December, 1845, we crossed this Sierra, at latitude 39° 17' 12", at, 
the present usual emigrant pass, at the head of the Shimon Trout 
river, 40 miles north of New Helvetia, and made observations at 
each base, and in the ^ame latitude, to determine the respective 
temperatures; the two bases being, respectively, the western about 
500, and the eastern about 4,0.00 feet above the level of the sea; 
and the Pass, 7,200 feet. The mean results of the observations 
were, on the eastern side, at sunrise, 9°; at noon, 44°; at sunset, 
30°; the state of vegetation and the appearance of the country be- 
ing 'at the same time (second w^eek of December) that of conhrmed 
winter; the rivers frozen over, snow on the ridges, annual plants 
dead, grass dry, and deciduous trees stripped of their foliage. At 
the western base, the mean temperature during a corresponding 
week was, at sunrise 29°, and at sunset 52°; the state of the atmos- 
phere and of vegetation that of advancing spring; grass fresh .and 
green, four to eight inches high, vernal plants in bloom, the air 
soft, and all the streams free from ice. Thus December, on one 
side of the mountain, was winter; on the other it was spring. 


East of the Sierra Nevada, and between it and the Rocky moun- 
tains, is that anomalous feature in our continent, the Great Basin, 
the existence of which was advanced as a theory after the second 
expedition, and is now established as a geographical fact. It is 
a singular feature: a basin of some five hundred miles diam- 
eter every way, between four and five thousand feet above the 
level of the sea, shut in all around by mountains, with its own 
system of lakes and rivers, and having no connexion whatever with 
the sea. Partly arid and sparsely inhabited, the general character 
of the Great Basin is that of desert, but with great exceptions, 
there being many parts of it very fit for the residence of a civilized 
people; and of these parts, the Mormons have lately established 
themselves in one of the largest and best. Mountain is the pre- 
dominating structure of the interior of the Basin, with plains be- 
tween — the mountains wooded and watered, the plains arid and 
sterile. The interior mountains conform to the law which governs 
the course of the Rocky mountains an<l of the Sierra Nevada, 
ranging nearly north and south, and present a very uniform char- 
acter of abruptness, rising suddenly from a narrow base of ten to. 
twenty miles, and attaining an elevation of two to five thousand 
feet above the level of the country. They are grassy and wooded, 
showing snow on their summit peaks during the greater part of the 
year, arid affording small streams of water from five to fifty feet 
wide, which lose themselves, some in lakes, some in the dry plains. 


[ 148 ] 

and some in the belt of alluviul soil at the base; for these moun- 
tains have very uniformly this belt of alluvion, the wash and abra- 
sion of their sides, rich in excellent grass, fertile, and light and 
loose enough to absorb small streams. Between these mountains 
are the arid plains which receive and deserve the name of desert. 
Such is the general structure of the interior of the Great Basin, 
more Asiatic than American in its character, and much resembling 
the elevated region between the Caspian sea and northern Persia. 
The rim of this Basin is massive ranges of mountains, of which the 
Sierra Nevada on the west, and the Wah-satch and Timpanogos 
chains on the east, are -the most conspicuous. On the north, it is 
separated from the waters of the Columbia by a branch of the Rocky 
mountains, and from the gulf of California, on the south, by a bed 
of mountainous ranges, of which the existence has been only re- 
cently determined. Snow abounds on them all; on some, in, their 
loftier parts, the whole year, with wood and grass; with copious 
streams of water, sometimes amounting to considerable rivers, 
flowing inwards, and forming lakes or sinking in the sands. Belts 
or benches of good alluvion are usually found at their base. 

Lakes in the Great Basin . — The Great Salt lake and the Utah 
lake are in this Basin, towards its eastern rim, and constitute its 
most interesting feature — one, a satu'-ated solution of common 
salt — the other, fresh — the Utah about one hundred feet above the 
level of the Salt lake, which is itself four thousand two hundred 
above the level of the sea, and connected by a strait, or river, 
thirty-five miles long. ’ . 

These lakes drain an area of ten or twelve thousand square 
miles, and have, on the east, along thd base of the mountain, the 
usual bench of alluvion, which extends to a distance of three hun- 
dred miles, with wood and water, and abundant grass. The Mor- 
mons have established themselves on the strait between these two 
lakes, and will find sufficient arable land for a large settlement — 
important from its position as intermediate between the Mississippi 
valley and the Pacific ocean, and on the line of communication to 
California and Oregon. 

The Utah is about thirty-five miles long, and is remarkable for 
the numerous and bold streams which it receives, coming down 
from the mountains on the southeast, all fresh water, although a 
large formation of rock salt, imbedded in red clay, is. found 
within the area on the southeast, which it drains. The lake and 
its affluents afford large trout and other fish in great numbers, 
which constitute the food of the Utah Indians during the fishing 
season. The Great Salt lake has a very irregular outline, greatly 
extended at time of melting snows. It is about seventy miles in 
length; both lakes ranging nearly north and south, in conformity 
to the range of the mountains, iuul is remarkable for its predomi- 
nance of salt. The whole lake waters seem thoroughly saturated 
with it, and every evaporation of the water leaves salt behind. 
The rocky shores of the islands are whitened by the spray, which 
leaves salt on everything it touches, and a covering like ice forms 
over the water, which the waves throw among the rocks. The 


[ 148 ] 

shores of the lake in the dry season, when the waters recede, and 
especially on the south side, are whitened with encrustations of 
fine white salt; the shallow arms of the lake, at the same time, 
under a slight covering of briny water, present beds of salt for 
miles, resembling softened ice, into which the horses’ feet sink to 
the fetlock. Plants and bushes, blown by the wind upon these 
fields, are entirely encrusted with crystallized salt, more than an. 
inch in thickness. Upon this lake of salt the fresh wmter received, 
though great in quantity, has no perceptible effect. No fish, or 
animal life of any kind, is found in it; the larv<z on the shore 
being found to belong to winged insects. A geological examination 
of the bed and shores of this lake is of the highest interest. 

Five gallons of water taken from this lake in the month of Sep- 
j tember, and rougfily evaporated over a fire, gave fourteen pints of 

' salt, a part of which being subjected to analysis, gave the fol- 

I lowing proportions; 

, Chloride of sodium (common salt) 97.80 parts. 

! Chloride of calcium 0.61 “ 

Chloride of magnesium 0.24 

Sulptate€lf soda.., 0,23 “ 

Sulphate of lime 1.12 “ 


Southward from the Utah is another lake of which little more is 
now known than when Humboldt published his general map of 
Mexico. It is the reservoir of a handsome river, about two hun- 
dred miles long, rising in the Wahsatch mountains, and discharging 
a considerable volume of water. The river and lake were called 
by the Spaniards, Severo, corrupted by the hunters into Sevier. 
On the map, they are called JYicolletj in honor of J. JV. JYicollet^ 
whose premature death interrupted the publication of the learned 
work on the physical geography of the basin of the Upper Missis- 
sippi, which five years of labor in the field had prepared him to 

On the w'estern side of the basin, and immediately within the 
first range of the'Sierra Nevada, is the Pyramid lake, receiving the 
water of Salmon Trout river. It is thirty-five miles long, between 
four and five thousand feet above the sea, surrounded by mountnins, 
is remarkably deep and clear, and abounds with uncommonly large 
salmon trout. Southward, along the base of the Sierra Nevada, is 
a range of considerable lakes, formed by many large streams from 
the Sierra. Lake Walker, the largest among these, affords great 
numbers of trout, similar to those of the Pyramid’ lake, and is a 
place of resort for Indians in the fishing season. 

There are probably other collections of water not yet known. 
The number of small lakes is very great, many of them more or 
less salty, and all, like the rivers which feed them, changing their 
appearance and extent under the influence of the season, rising 
with the melting of the snows, sinking in the dry weather, and 
distinctly presenting their high and low water mark. These gen- 

[ 148 ] 10 , 

erally afford some fertile and well-watered land, capable of settle- 
ment. , v 

Rivers of the Great Basin. — The most considerable river in the 
interior of the Great Basin is the one called on the map Humboldt 
river, as the mountains at its head are called Humboldt river 
mountains — so called as a small mark of respect to the ^^JYestor of '? 
scientific travellers,’^ who has done so much to illustrate North " 
American geography, without leaving his name upon any one 
of its remarkable features. It is a river long knowni to hun- ' 
ters, and sometimes sketched on maps under the name of Mary’s, ^ 
or Ogden’s, but now for the first time laid down with any preci- ^ 
sion. It is a very peculiar stream, and has many characteristics of 
an Asiatic river — the Jordan, for example, though twice as long — 
rising in mountains and losing itself in a lak<? of its owm, after a 
long and solitary course. It rises in two streams in mountains west 
of the Great Salt lake, which unite, after some fifty miles, and 
bears westwardly along the northern side of the basin towards the 
Great Sierra Nevada, which it is destined never to reach, much 
less to pass. The mountains in w'hich it rises are round and hand- ® 
s*me in their outline, capped with snow the greater par^f the year, 
well clothed with grass and wood, and abundant in water! The' J 
stream is a narrow^ line, without affluents, losing by absorption and 
evaporation as it goes, and terminating in a marshy lake, with low i 
shores, fringed with bulrushes,^ and whitened w’ith saline encrusta- j 
tions. It has. a moderate current, is from two to si.x feet deep in 
the dry season, and probably not fordable anywhere below the 
junction of the forks during the time of melting snows, when both lake 
and river are considerably enlarged. The country through which | 
it passes (except its immediate valley) is a dry sandy plain, with- 
out grass, wood, or arable soil; from about 4,'700 feet (at the forks) 
lo 4,200 feet (at the lake) above the level of the sea, winding j 
among broken ranges of mountains, and varying from a fe\v miles 
to twenty in breadth. Its own inimediate valley is a ri< h alluvion, 
beautifully covered with blue grass, herd grass, clover, and other 
nutritious grasses; and its course is marked through the plain by a 
line of willow and cotton wood trees, serving for fuel. The 
Indians in the fall set fire to the grass and destroy all trees except 
in low grounds near the water. 

This river possesses qualities which, in the progress of events, 
may give it both value and fame. It lies on the line of travel to . 
Californifi and Oregon, and is the best route now* known through 
the Great Basin, and the one travelled by emigrants. Its direction, 
nearly east and west, is the right course for that travel. It fur- 
nishes a level unobstructed way for nearly three hundred miles, 
and a continuous supply of the indispensable articles of water, 
wood, and grass. Its head is towards the Great Salt lake, and 
consequently towards the Mormon settlement, which must become 
a point in the line of emigration to California and the lower Co- 
lumbia. Its termination i^ within fifty miles of the base of the 
Sierra Nevada, and opposite the Salmon Trout river pass — a pass 
(>nly seven thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea, 


[ 148 ] 

and less than half that above the level of the Basin, and lead- 
ing into the valley of the Sacramento, some forty miles north of 
Nueva Helvetia. These properties give to this river a prospective 
value in future communications with the Pacific ocean, and the 
profile view on the north of the map shows the elevations of the 
present travelling route, of which it is a part, from the South pass, 
in the Rocky mountains, to the bay of Sah Francisco. 

The other principal rivers of the Great Basin are found on its 
circumference^ collecting their waters from the Spowy mountains 
which surround it, and are, 1. Bear river, on the east, rising in 
the massive range of the Timpanogos mountains and falling into the 
Great Salt lake, after a doubling . course through a fertile and pic- 
turesque valley, tvyo hundred miles long. 2. The Utah river and 
Timpanaozu or Timpanogos^ discharging themselves into the Utah 
lake on the east, after gathering their copious streams in the ad- 
joining parts of the Wdh-satch and Timpanogos mountains. 3. Ni- 
collet RIVER, rising south in the long range of the Wah-satch 
mountains, and falling into a lake of ite own name, after making 
an arable and grassy valley, two hundred miles in length, through 
mountainous country. 4. Salmon Trout river, on the west, run- 
ning down from the Sierra Nevada and falling into Pyramid 
lake, after a course of about one hundred miles. From its source, 
about one-third of its valley is through a pine timbered country, 
and for the remainder of the way through very rocky, naked ridges. 
It is remarkable for the abundance and excellence of its salmon 
trout, and presents some ground for cultivation. 5. Carson and 
Walker rivers, both handsome clear water streams, nearly one 
hundred miles long, coming, like the preceding, down the eastern 
flank of the Sierra Nevada and forming lakes of their own name 
at its base. They contain salmon trout and other fish, and form 
some large bottoms of good land. 6, Owens river, issuing 
from the Sierra Nevada on the south, is a large bold stream 
about one hundred and twenty miles long, gathering its waters 
in the Sierra Nevada, flowing to the southward, and forming a 
lake about fifteen miles long at the base of the mountain. At a 
medium stage it is generally four or five feet deep, in places fif- 
1 teen; wooded with willow and cotton wood, and makes continuous 
I. bottoms of fertile land, at intervals rendered marshy by springs 
and small affluents from the mountain. The water of the lake in 
wh-ich it terminates has an unpleasant smell and bad taste, but 
around its shores are found small streams of pure water with good 
grass. On the map this has been called Owens riven. 

Besides these principal rivers issuing from the mountains on the 
^circumference of the Great Basin, there are many others, all 
around, all obeying the general law of losing themselves in sands, 
or lakes, or belts of alluvion, and almost all of them an index to 
I some arable land, with grass and wood. 

j Interior of the Great Basin . — The interior of the Great Basin, so 
I far as explored, is found to be a succession of sharp mountain ranges 
I and naked plains, such as have been described. These ranges are iso- 
lated, presenting summit lines broken into many peaks, of which the 

highest are between ten and eleven thousand feet above the sea. They 
are thinly wooded with some varieties of pine, {firms monophyllus 
characteristic,) cedar, aspen, and a few other trees; and afford an excel- 
lent quality of bunch grass, equal to any found in the Rocky moun- 
tains. Black tailed deer and mountain sheep are frequent in these 
mountains; which, in consideration of their grass, water and wood, ip 
and the alluvion at their base, may be called fertile, in the radical 
sense of the word, as signifying a capacity to produce, or bear, and 
in contradistinction to sterility. In this sense these interior moun- 
tains may be called fertile. Sterility, on the contrary, is the abso- 
lute characteristic of the valleys between the. mountains — no wood, ^ 
no water, no grass; the gloomy artemisia the prevailing shrub — no 
animals, except the hares, which shelter in these shrubs, and fleet 
and timid antelope, always on the watch for danger, and finding no 
place too dry and barren which gives it a wide horizon for its view 
and a clear field for its flight. No birds are seen in the plains, and 
few on the mountains. But fe\v Indians are found, and those in the p 
lowest state of human existence; living not even in communities,’ 
but in the elementary state of families, and sometimes a sipgle in- i| 
dividual to himself— except about the lakes stocked with fish, which * 
become the property and resort of a small tribe. The abundance * 
and excellence of the fish, in most of these lakes, is a characteristic; 
and the fishing season is to the Indians the hrippy season of the 
year. . 

Climate of the Great Basin. — The climate of the Great Basin does 
not present the rigorous winter due to its elevation and mountainous 
structure. Observations made during the last expedition, show that 
around the southern shores of the Salt lake, latitude 40° 30', to 41°, ' 
for two wrecks of the month of October, 1845, from the 13th to the ^ 
27th, the mean temperature \vas 40° at sunrise, 70° at noon, and 54° 
at sunset; ranging at sunrise, from 28° to 57°; at noon, from 62° to 
76°; at four in the afternoon, from 58° to 69°; and at sunset, from 
47° to 57°. 

Until the middle of the month the w'eather remained fair and fj 
very pleasant. On the 15th, it began to rain in occasional showers, " 
which whitened \vith snow the tops of the mountains on the south- • 
east side of the lake valley. Flowers were in bloom during all 1 
the month. About the 18th, on one of the large islands in the 
south of the lake, helianthus^ several species of aster, erodium 
cicutarium, and several other plants, were in fresh and full bloom; fr, 
the grass of the second growth was coming up finely, and vege- |a 
tation, generally, betokened the lengthened summer of the climate, tp 

The 16th, 17th, and 18th, stormy with rain; heavy at night; tk 
peaks of the Bear river range and tops of the mountains covered C 
with snow. On the l8th, cleared with \veather like that of late ;i 
spring, and continued mild and clear until the end of the. month, n 
when the fine weather was again interrupted by a day or two oj 
rain. No snow within 2,000 feet above the level of the valley. 

Across the interior, between latitudes 41° and 38°, during the ( 
month of November, (5th to 25th,) the mean temperature was 29*^ i 
at sunrise, and 40° at sunset; ranging at noon (by detached obser- 


[ 148 ] 

nations) between 41° and 60°. There was a snow storm between 
f he 4th and 7th, .the snow falling principally at night, and sun 
' )CGasionally breaking out in the day. The lower hills and val- 
' eys were covered a few inches deep with snow, which the sun 
I* carried off in a few hours after the storm was over. 

{ The weather then continued uninterruptedly op'en until the close 
* Sf the year, without rain or snow; and' during the remainder of 
•November, generally clear and beautiful; nights and mornings 
:alm, a light breeze during the day, and strong winds of very rare 
I' Dccurrence. Snow remained only on the peaks of the mountains. 

■’ On the western side of the basin, along the base of the Sierra 
'.JVevada, during two/weeks, from the 25th JVovemher to the 11th 
^December, the mean temperature at sunrise was 11°, and at sunset 
"’ 34 °; ranging -at sunrise from zero to 21°, and at sunset from 23° 

! to 44°. For ten consecutive days of the same period, the mean 
temperature at noon was 45°, ranging from 33° to 56°. 

The weather remained open, usually very clear, and th.e rivers 
’’ were frozen. 

The winter of ’43-’44, within the basin, was remarkable for the 
isame open, pleasant weather, rarely interrupted by rain or snow. 
In fact, there is nothing in the climate of this great interior region, 

^’ elevated as it is, and surroundgd and ' traversed by snowy moun- 
" tains, to prevent civilized man from making it his home, and. find- 
ing in its arable parts the means of a comfortable subsistence; and 
^ this the Mormons will probably soon prove in the parts about the 
■ Great Salt lake. The progress of their settlement is already great. 

; On the first of April of the present year, they had 3,000 acres in 
' wheat, seven saw and grist mills, seven hundred houses in a for- 
tified enclosure of sixty acres, stock, arWother accompaniments of 
a flourishing settlement. 

Such is the Great Basin, heretofore characterized as a desert, 

“ and in some respects meriting that appellation; but already de- 
. manding the qualification of great exceptions, and deserving the“ 
full examination of a thorough exploration. 


via West of the Sierra Nevada, and between that mountain and 
nij the sea, is the second grand division of’ California, and the only 
part to which the name applies in the current language of ‘the 
(. country. It is the occupied and inhabited part, and so different in 
l,tj character — so divided by the mountain wall qf the Sierra from the 
Great Basin above — as to constitute a region to itself, with a struc- 
te ture and configuration — a soil, climate, and productions' — of its 
hi own; and as northern Persia may be referred to as some type of thje 
ol former, so may Italy be referred to as some point of compariso.n for 
the latter. North and south, this region embraces about temdegrees 
he of latitude — from 32°, where it touches the peninsula of California, 
to 42°, where it bounds on Oregon. East and west, from the Sierra 
Nevada to the sea, it will average, in the middle parts, 150 miles; 
in the northern parts 200 — giving an area of above one hundred 



thousand square raiies. Looking westward from the summit of the 
Sierra, the main feature presented is the long, low, broad valley of 
the Joaquin and Sacramento rivers — the two valleys forming one — 
five hundred miles long and fifty broad, lying along the base of 
the Sierra, and bounded to the west by the low coast range of 
mountains, which separates it from the sea. Long dark lines of 
timber indicate the streams, and bright spots mark the intervening 
plains. Lateral ranges, parallel to the Sierra Nevada and the coast, 
make the structure of the country and break it into a surface of 
valleys and mountains — the valleys a few hundred, and the moun- 
tains two to four thousand feet above the sea. These form greater 
masses, and become more elevated in the north, where some peaks, 
as the Shastl, enter the regions of perpetual snow. Stretched 
along the mild coast of the Pacific, with a general elevation in its 
plains and valleys of only a few hundred feet above the level of 
the sea — and backed by the long and lofty wall of the Sierra — 
mildness and geniality may be assumed as the characteristic ' of its 
climate. The inhabitant of corresponding latitudes on the Atlantic 
side of this continent can with difficulty conceive of the soft air 
and southern productions under the Same latitudes in the maritime 
region of Upper California. The singular beauty and purity of the 
sky in the south of this region is chaijacterized by Humboldt as a 
rare phenomenon, and all travellers realize the truth of his descrip- 

The present condition of the country affords but slight data for 
forming correct opinions of the agricultural capacity and fertility 
of the soil. Vancouver found, at the mission of San Buenaventura, 
in 1792, latitude 34° 16', ajmles, pears, plums, figs, oranges, grapes, 
pe'aches, and pomegranate"growing together with the plantain, 
banana, cocoa nut, cane, and indigo, all yielding fruit in 
abundance and of excellent quality. Humboldt mentions the olive 
oil of California as equal to that of Andalusia, and the wine like 
that of the Canary islands. At present, but little remains of the 
high and various cultivation which had been attained at the mis- 
sions. Under the mild and paternal administration of the “ Fathers,'” 
the docile character of the Indians was made available for labor, 
and thousands were employed in the fields, the orchards, and the 
vineyards. At present, but little of this former cultivation is 
seen. The fertile valleys are overgrown with wild mustard; vine- I 
yards and olive orchards, decayed and neglected, are among the 
remaining vestiges; only in some places do we see the evidences 
of what the country is capable. At San Buenaventura we found 
the olive trees, i ; January, bending under the weight of neglected 
fruit; and the mission of San Luis Obispo (latitude 35°) is still 
distinguished for the excellence of its olivfes, considered finer and 
larger than those of the Mediterranean. 

The productions of the south differ from those of the norih and 
of the middle. Grapes, olives, Indian corn, have been its staples, 
with many assimilated fruits and grains. Tobacco has been re- 
cently introduced; and the uniform summer heat which follows 
the wet seflson, and is uninterrupted by rain, would make th® 



seutlicrn country well adapted to cotton. Wh^t is the first pro- 
duct of the north, where it always constituted tlie principal culti- 
vation of the missions. This promises to he the grain growing 
regi n of California. The moisture of the coast seems particularly 
suited to the potato and to the vegetables common to the United 
States, which grow to an f xtraordinary size. 

Perhaps few parts of the world can produce in such perfection 
so great a variety of fruits and grains as the large and various 
region enclosing the bay of San Francisco and drained by its 
waters. A view of the map will show that region and its great 
extent, comprehending the entire valleys of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin, and the whole western sjope of the Sierra Nevada. 
General phrases fail to give precise ideas, and I have recourse to 
the notes in my journal to show its climate and productions by the 
test of the thermometer and the state of the vegetable kingdom. 


These valleys are one, discriminated only by the names of the 
rivers which traverse it. It is a single valley — a single geographi- 
cal formation — near 500 miles long, lying at the western base of 
the Sierra Nevada, and between it and the coast range of moun- 
tains, and stretching across the head of the bay of San Francisco, 
with which 2 , delta of twenty-five miles connects it. The two 
rivers, San Joaquin and Sacramento, rise at opposite ends of this 
long valley, receive numerous streams, many of them bold rivers, 
from the Sierra Nevada, become themselyes navigable rivers, flow 
toward each other, meet half way, an. I enter the bay of-San Fran- 
cisco together, in the region of tide water, making a continuous 
water line from one end to the other. 

The valley of the San Joaquin is about 300 miles long and 60 
broad, between the slopes of the coast mountain and the Sierra 
Nevada, with a general elevation of only a few hundred feet above 
the level of the sea. It presents a variety of soil, from dry and 
unproductive to well watered and luxuriantly fertile. The eastern 
(which is the fertile) side of the valley is intersected with numer- 
ous streams, forming large and very beautiful bottoms of fertile 
land, wooded principally with white oaks {quercus lo?igiglanda, 
Torr. and Frem.) in open groves of handsome trees, often five or 
six feet in diameter, and sixty to eighty feet high. Only the larger 
streams, which are fifty- to one hundred and fifty yards wide, and 
drain the upper parts of the mountains, pass entirely across the 
valley, forming the Tulare lakes and the San Joaquin river, which, 
in the rainy season, make a continuous stream from the head of the 
valley to the bay. The foot hills of the Sierra Nevada, which 
limit the valley, make a woodland c.puntry, diversified with undu- 
lating grounds and pretty valleys, and watered with numerous small 
streams, which reach only a few miles beyond the hills, the springs 
which supply them not being copious enough to carry them across 
the plains. These alford many advantageous spots for farms, mak- 
ing sometimes large bottoms of rich moist land. The rolling sur- 


[ 148 ] 

face of the hills prc^ts sunny exposures, sheltered from the winds,* 
and having a highly^vorable climate and suitable soil, are con- 
sidered to be well adapted to the cultivation of the grape, and will 
probably become the principal vine growing region of California. 
The uplands bordering the valleys of the large streams are usually 
wooded with evergreen oaks, and the intervening plains are tim- 
bered with groves or belts of evergreen and white oaks among 
prairie and open land. The surface of the valley consists of level 
plains along the Tulare lakes and San Joaquin river, changing into 
undulating and rolling ground nearer the foot hills of the moun- 

A condensed notice fr.ora observations, made during several jour- 
neys through the valley, will serve to give some definite ideas of 
its climate and character. 

We left the upper settlements of New Helvetia on the 14th De- 
cember, and, passing through the groves of oak which border the 
Rio de los Ameficanbs, directed our course in a southeasterly di- 
rectiWi across a plain toward the Rio de los Cos-um-nes, a hand-, 
some, well wooded stream, about thirty yards wide. The Cos- 
um-ne Indians, 'who give name to this river, have been driven 
away from it within a few years, and dispersed among other tribes; 
and several farms, of some leagues in extent, have already been es- 
tablished on the lower part of the stream. We encamped at one 
of these, about eight miles above the junction of the Cos-urn-ne 
river with the Mo-kel-um-ne, which a few miles below enters a deep 
slough in the tide water of the San Joaquin delta. 

At this place the temperature at sunset was 55°, and at sun- 
rise 27°. 

Our road on the 15th was over the plain between the Cos-um-ne 
and Mo-kel-um-ne rivers, inclining toward the mountains. We 
crossed several wooded sloughs, with ponds of deep water, which, 
mearer the foot hills, are running streams/^vith large bottoms of 
fertile land; the greater part of our way being through open woods 
of evergreen and other Oaks. The rainy season, which commonly 
begins with November, had not yet commenced, and the Mo-kel- 
um-ne river was at the low stage usual to the dry season, and easily 
forded. This stream is about sixty yards wide, and the immediate 
valley some thirty or forty feet below the upland plain. It has 
broad alluvial bottoms of very fertile soil — sometimes five hundred 
yards wide, bounded by a low upland, wooded with evergreen oaks. 
The weather in the evening was calm, the sky mottled with clouds, 
and the temperature at sunset 52°. 

Leaving the Mo kel-um-ne, (December 16,) we travelled about 
twenty miles through open woods of white oak, crossing in the way 
several stream beds — among them the Calaveras creek. These have 
abundant water, with good land above; ami the Calaveras makes 
some rtmarkably handsome bottoms. Issuing from the woods, we 
rode about sixteen miles over an open prairie, partly covered with 
bunch grass, the timber rtiippearing on the rollinghills of the river 
Stanislaus in the usual belt of evergreen oaks. The river-valley 
was about forty feet below tine upland, and the stream seventy 



yards broad, making the usual fertile bottom«, which here wefe 
covered with green grass among large oaks. We encamped in ond 
of these bottoms, in a grove of the large white oaks previously 
mentioned, as quercus loyigiglanda {Torr. and Frem.) This oak is 
a new species, belonging to the division of white oaks, distinguished' 
by the length of its acorn, which is commonly an inch and a half, 
and sometimes two inches. This long acorn characterizes the tree, 
which has accordingly been specified by Dr. Torrey as quercus 
longiglanda — (long-acorn oak.*) The tree attainsfrequently a diame- 
ter of six feet, and a height of eighty feet, with a wide spreading 
head. The many varieties of deciduous and evergreen oaks, which 
predominate throughout the valleys and lower hills of the moun- 
tains, afford large quantities of acorns, which constitute the prin- 
cipal food of the Indians of that region. Their great abundance, 
in the midst of fine pasture lands, must make them an important 
element in the agricultural economy of the country. 

The day had been very warm, and at sunset the temperature«was 
55°, an-d the weather clear and calm. 

At sunrise next morning, the thermometer was at 22°, with a 
light wind from the Sierra, N. 75° E., and a clear pure sky, in which 
the blue line of the mountain showed distinctly. The way, for' 
about three miles, was through open woods of evergreen and. other 
^oaks, with some shrubbery intermingled. Among this was a lupinus 
of extraordinary size, not yet in bloom. Emerging from the woods, 
we travelled in a southeasterly direction, over a prairie of rolling 
land, the ground becoming some\Vhat more broken as we ap- 
proached the To-wal-um-ne river,, one of the finest tributaries of 
the San Joaquin. The hills -w ere generally covered with a species 
of geranium, {erodium cicutarium,) a valuable plant for stock, con- 
sidered very nutritious. With this was frequently interspersed good 
and green bunch grass, and a plant commonly called bur clover. 
This plant, which in some places is very abundant, bears a spirally 
twisted pod, filled with seeds, which remains on the ground during 
the dry season, well preserved, and affords good food for ^cattle 
until the spring rains bring out new grass, ^e started a band of 
wild horses on approaching the river, and the Indians ran^ off from 
a village on the bank — the men lurking round to observe us. 
About their huts were the usual acorn cribs, containing each some 
twenty or thirly bushels. We found here excellent grass, and broad 
bottoms of alluvial land, open-wooded, with large white oaks of , 
the new species. The thermometer, at sunset, was at 54°. 5, with 
a calm, clear atmosphere. Multitudes of geese and other wild fowl 
made the night noisy. 

In the morning, the sky was clear, with an air from S. 55 E., 
and a hoar frost covering the ground like a light fall of snow. At 
sunrise, the thermometer was at 24°. 5. Our course now inclined 
more towards the foot of the mountain, and led over a broken 
country. In about 17 miles we reached the river Aux-um-ne, an- 

• The names of plants mentioned in this memoir rest on the authority of Dr; Torrey, by 
■whom the specimens have been examined. 




other large affluent. to the San Joaquin, and continued about six 
miles up the stream, intending to reach, gradually, the heart of the 
mountains at the head of the Lake Fork of the Tulare. 

We encamped on the southern side of the river, where broken 
hills made a steep bluff, with a narrow bottom. Gn the northern 
side was a low, undulating wood and prairie land, over which a 
band of about three hundred elk was slowly coming to water where 
we halted, feeding as they approached. 

December 19th. The weather continued clear and pleasant. We 
continued our journey in a southeasterly direction, over a broken and 
hilly country, without timber, and showing only scattered clumps 
of trees, from which we occasionally started deer. In a few hours’ 
ride we reached a beautiful country of undulating upland, openly 
timbered with oaks, principally evergreen, and watered with small 
streams. We came here among some villages of Indians, of the 
horse-thief tribes, who received us in an unfriendly manner; and, 
after a busy night among them, we retreated the next morning to the 
more open country of the lower hills. Our party was then a small 
one of 16 men, encumbered with cattle, which we were dri\ing to 
the relief of the main body o£ the expedition, which had been sent 
southward from Walker’s lake, in th,e basin, along the eastern base 
of the Sierra Nevada, and to which a valley in the mountain, on 
the Tulare Lake Fork, had been appointed as a place of meeting. 

In the evening, we encamped at an elevation of 1,000 feet above 
the sea, latitude 37° 07' 47'', still among the hills, on a spring hol- 
low, leading to the Upper Joaquin river. The day had "been mild, 
with a faint sun and cloudy weather; and,, at sunset, there were 
some light clouds in the sky, with a northeasterly wind, and a sun- 
set temperature of 45°; probably rendered lower than usual by the 
air fiv)m the mountains, as the foot-hills have generally a warmer 
temperature than the open valley. Elk were numerous during the 
day, making, on one occasion, a broken band, several miles in length. 

On the 21st, the thermometer at sunrise was 32.6; the sky 
slightly clouded, and, in the course of the morning, the clouds 
gathered heavy in the southwest. Our route lay in a southeasterly 
direction, toward the Upper Joaquin, crossing, among rolling hills, 
a large stream and several sandy beds of affluents to the main river. 
On the trees along these streams, as well as on the hills, I noticed 1 
mosses. About 2, in the afternoon, we reached the Upper San Joa- j 
quin. The stream was here about 70 , yards wide, ^nd much too 
deep to be forded. A little way below, we succeeded in crossing, I 
at a rapid made by a bed of rock, below which, for several miles, E 
the river appeared deep and not fordable. We followed down the u 
stream for six or eight miles, and encamped on its banks, on the rii 
verge of the valley plain. At eVening, rain began to fall, and, r 
with this, the spring properly commenced. There had been a little b 
rain in November, but not sufficient to revive vegetation. t 

December 22. — The teinjierature at sunrise was 39°. There had fi 
been heavy rain during the night, with high wind, and this i^iorn- J: 
ing, there was a thick fog, which began to go off at 8 o’clock, h 
when the sun broke through. We crossed an open plain, still in a lii 

19 [ 148 ] 

southeasterly direction, reaching, in about - twenty miles, the 
Tulares Lake river. This is one of the largest and handsomest 
streams in the valley, being about 100 yards broad, and having, 
perhaps, a larger body of fertile land than any other. The broad 
alluvial bottoms are well wooded with several species of oaks. 
This is the principal affluent to the Tulare* lake, (the bullrush lake,) 
a strip of water, about 70 miles long, surrounded by lowlands, 
rankly overgrown with bullrushes, and receiving all the rivers in 
the southern end of the valley. In times of high water, the lake 
discharges into the Joaquin, making a continuous water line 
through the whole extent of the valley. 

We ascended this river to its sources in the Sierra Nevada, about 
60 miles from the edge of the valley, which we reached again on 
the 7th of Janwari/, in the neighborhood of the Tulare lake. We 
found the temperature much the same as in December. Fog^, 
which rose from the lake in the morning, were dense, cold, and 
[penetrating, hut, after a few hours, gave place to a fine day. The 
face of the country had been much improved by the rains which 
1 had fallen while we remained in the mouhtains^. Several humble 
plants, among them the golden flowered violet {viola crysantha) 

• and erodium cicutarium, the .first valley flowers of the spring, 
which courted a sunny exposure and warm sandy soil, were already 
in bloom on the southwestern hill slopes. In the foot hills of the 

■ mountains the bloom of the flowers was earlier. We travelled 
among multitudinous herds of elk, antelope, and wild horses. 

!i Several of the latter, which we killed for food^were found to be 
very fat. By the middle of January, when we had reached the 
1 lower San Joaquin, the new green grass covered the ground among 
the open timber on' the rich river bottoms, and the spring vegeta- 
tion had taken a vigorous start. 

The mean temperature in the Joaquin valley, during the journey, 

I from the middle of December to , the middle of January, was at 
sunrise 29° and at sunset 52°, with generally a faint breeze from the 
; snowy mountains in the morning, and calm weather at the evening. 

This was a lower temperature than we had found in the oak region 
I of the mountains bordering the valley, between 1,000 and 5,000 

■ feet above the level of the sea, where, throughout California, I 
1 have' remarked the spring to be more forward than in the open 

valleys below. 

) During a journey through the valley, between the head of the 
, Tulare lakes and the mouth of the San Joaquin, from the 19th Jan- 
uary to the 12th February, the mean temperature was 38° at sunrise, 
e ind 53° at sunset, with frequent rains.'' At the end of January, the 
I. river bottoms, in many places, were thickly covered with luxuriant 
' yrass, more than half a foot high. The California poppy, {Eschscholt- 
e zia Californica,) the characteristic plant of the California spring; 

nemophila insignis, one of the earliest flowers, growing in beauti- 
(1 ul fields of a delicate blue, and erodium cicidarium, were begin- 
,i- ling to show a Scattered bloom. Wild horses were fat, and a grisly 
ii Jear, killed on the 2d February, had four inches thickness of fat on 
I lis back and belly, and was estimated to weigh a thousand pounds. 


[ 148 ] 

Salmon was first obtained on the 4th February in the To-wal-um-ne 
river, which, -according to the Indians, is the most southerly stream 
in the valley in.which this fish is found. By the ihiddle of March, 
the whole valley' of the San Joaquin was in the full glory of 
spring; the evergreen oaks were in flower, geranium cicutarium 
was generally in bloom, occupying the' place of the grass, and 
making on all the uplands a close sward. The higher prairies be- 
tween the rivers presented unbroken fields of yellow and orange 
colored flowers, varieties of Layia and Eschscholtzia Calif ornica^ 
and large bouquets of the blue flowering nemophila nearer the 
streams. These made the prevailing bloom, and the sunny hill 
slopes to the river bottoms showed a varied growth of luxuriant 
flowers. The white oaks were not yet in bloom. 

Observations made in the valley, from the bend of the Joaquin 
to the Cos-um-ne river, give, for the mean temperature, from the 10th 
to the 22d March, 38° at sunrise, and 56° at sunset, the dew point 
being 35°. 7 at sunrise, and 47°. 6 at sunset, and the quantity of 
moisture contained in a cubic foot of air being 2.712 grains, and 
4.07^ grains, respectively. 

A sudden change in the temperature \yas remarked iq passing 
from the To-wal-um-iie to the Stanislaus river, there being no 
change in the weather, and the wind, continuing from the northwest, 
to which we were more directly exposed on reaching the-Stanislaus 
river, where we opened on the bay. In travelling down to the 
Stanislaus the mean temperature fOr five days (from the 11th to the 
16th) was 40°. 3'at sunrise, 73°.at 4 p. m., and 63° at sunset; and 
detached observations gave 66° at 9, a. m., 77° at noon, and 87° at 
2, p. m. 

The dew point was 38°. 0, 55°. 5, 54°. 3 at sunrise, at 4 in the after- 
noon, and at sunset; and the moisture contained in a cubic foot of 
air 2.878 grains, ^.209 grains, and 4.927 grains, respectively. 

North of the Stanislaus for five days (from 16th to the 21st) 
the mean was 36°. 6 at sunrise, 57° at 4, p. m., and 49° at sunset. 
The dew point w-as 34°.9 at sunrise, 37°. 1 at 4, p. m., and 40°.9 at 
sunset, and the quantity of moisture in a cubic foot of air 2.671 
grains, 2.983 grains, and 3.216 grains at the corresponding times. 
At sunrise of the 16th, on the To-wal-um-ne, the thermometer, was 
at 43°, and at sunrise of the next morning, on the Stanislaus, 
at 35°. 

The temperature was lowest on the night of the 17th. At sun- 
rise of the morning following the thermometer was at 27°, and it 
was remarked that the frost affected several varieties of plants. On 
the 20th and 21st there were some showers of rain, the first since 
the end of February. These w-ere preceded by southwesterly 

During December and the first part of January, which w-as still 
at the season of low waters, we were easily able to ford all the 
Joaquin tributaries. These begin' to rise with the rains, and are 
kept up by the melting snows in the summer. At the end of Jan- 
uary, the Joaquin required boating throughout the valley, and the 
tributaries were forded with difficulty. 



In the latter part of March, of a dry season, (1844,) we were 
obliged to boat the Stanislaus, To-wal-um-ne, and Aux-um-ne, and 
the San Joaquin was no where fordable below the bend where it is 
joined by the slough of the Tulare lake. On the 13th of March, 

' 1846, we were obliged to boat the San Joaquin, the river being no 
where fordable below the junction of the slough, and the Indians 
guided us to some difficult fords of the large tributaries, where we 
succeeded to cross with damage to our equipage. In July of the 
same year, we boated the .San Joaquin below the Aux-um-ne, it 
being no where fordable below the bend. 

In June, 1847, the Joaquin was no where fordable, being several 
hundred yards broad as high up as the Aux-um-ne river, even with 
its banks, and scattered in sloughs over all its lower b^toms. All 
the large tributaries, the Aux-um.-ne, To-wal-um-ne, Stanislaus, 
and Mo-kel-um-ne, required to be boated, and were pouring down 
a deep volume of water from the mountains, one to two hundred 
yards wide. The high waters came from the melting snows, which, 

I during the past winter, had accumulated to a great depth in the 
mountains, and, at the end of June, lay in the approaches to the 
; Bear river pass, on a breadth of ten or fifteen miles, and this 

' below the level of 7,200 feet. In rainy seasons, when the rains 

begin with November, and the snows lie on the mountains till July, 
this river is navigable for 8 months of the year — the length of time 
depending on the season. , 

The Cos-ura-ne was the last tributary of the San Joaquin, and 
the last river of its valley coming down from the Sierra Nevada. 

' The Rio de los Americanos was the first tributary of the valley of 
the Sacramento, also coming down', like all the respectable tribu- 
taries of both rivers from the snowy summit and rainy sides of the 
great Sierra. The two valleys are one^ only discriminated in de- 
scription or reference by the name of the river which traverses the 
I respective halves, as seen in the map. "We entered the part of the 
valley which takes the name of its river, Sacramento^ on the 21st 
day of March, going north, and continued our observations on that 
valley. , 

We remained several days on the Rio de los Americanos, to re- 
cruit our animals on the abundant range between the Sacramento 
and the hills. During this time the thermometer was at 35° at sun- 
rise, 54° at 9 o’clock in the morning, 63° at noon, 63° at 2 in the 
• afternoon, 61° at 4, and 53° at sunset; the dew point at correspond- 
t ing times being 34°. 0, 49°. 9, 46°. 6, 49°. 4, 51°. 6, 43°. 7; and the 
1 quantity of moisture in a cubic foot* of air being 2.519 grs., 4.235 
f grs., 3.808 grs., 4.161 grs., 4.484 grs., 3.469 grs. 

) We left the Rio de los Americanos on the 24th, ten miles aboTe 
the mouth, travelling a little east of north, in the direction of the 
il Bear river settlements, at the foot of the Emigrant Pass. The 
e road led among oak 'timber, over ground slightly undulating, cov- 
(6 ered with grass intermingled with flowers. . The thermometer at 
V 4 was 76°, and at sunset 60°; the weather clear, 
e At sunrise of the 25th, the temperature was 36°, with an easterly 
wind and clear sky. In about thirty miles travel to the north, we 


[ 148 ] 

reached the rancho of Mr. Keyser, on Bear river; an affluent to 
Feather river, the largest tributary of the Sacramento. The route lay 
over an undulating country — more so as our course brought us 
nearer the mountains— wooded with oaks and shrubbery in blos- 
som, with small prairies intervening. Many plants were in flower, 
and among them the California poppy, unusually magnificent. It 
is the characteristic bloom of California at this season, and the 
Bear river bottoms, near the hills, were covered w’ith it. We 
crossed several small streams, and found the ground miry from the 
recent rains. The temperature at 4 in the afternoon was 70°, and 
at sunset 58°, with an easterly wind, and the night bright and 

The morning of the 25th was clear, and warmer than usual; the 
wind southeasterly, and the temperature 40°. We travelled across 
the valley plain, and in about 16 miles reached Feather river at 
26 miles from its junction with the Sacramento, near the mouth of 
the Yuva, so called from ft village of Indians who live on it. The 
river has high banks — 20 or 30 feet — and was here 150 yards wide, 
a deep, navigable stream. The Indians aided us across the river 
with canoes and small rafts. Extending along the bank in front of 
the village, was a range of wicker cribs, about twelve feet high, 
partly filled with what is there the Indians’ 'staff of life — acorns. 
A collection of huts, shaped like bee hives, with naked Indians 
sunning themselves on the tops, and these acorn cribs, are the 
prominent objects in an Indian village. 

There is a fine farm, or rancho.^ on the Yuva, stocked with about 
3,000 head of cattle, and cultivated principally in wheat, with 
some other grains and vegetables, which are carried, by means of 
the river, to a market at San Francisco. Mr. Cordu'a, a native of 
German^, who is proprietor of the place, informed me that his av- 
erage harvest of wheat was about twenty-five bushels to the acre, 
which he supposed would be about the product of the wheat lands 
in the Sacramento valley. The labor on this and other farms in 
the valley is perfdrmed by Indians. 

The temperature here was 74°. at 2 in the afternoon, 71°. at 4, and 
69°. at sunset, with a -northeasterly wind and clear sky. 

At sunrise of the 27th the temperature was 42°., clear, with a 
northeasterly wind. We travelled northwardly, up the right bank 
of the river, which was wooded with large w-hite and evergreen 
oaks, interspersed with thickets of shrubbery in full bloom. We 
made a pleasant journey of twenty-seven miles, and encamped at 
the bend of the river, where irturnsfrom the course across the val- 
ley to run southerly to its junction with the Sacramento. The ther- 
mometer at sunset was at 67°, sky partially clouded, with southerly 

The thermometer at sunrise on the 28th was at 46. °6., with a 
northeasterly wind. The road was over an open plain, with a few 
small sloughs or creeks that do not reach the river. After travel- 
ling about fifteen miles we encamped on Butte creek, a beautiful 
stream of clear water about fifty yards wide, with a bold current 
running all the year. It has larjge fertile bottoms, wooded with 


[ 148 ] 

open grove;?, and having a luxuriant growth of pea vine among the 
grass. The oaks here were getting into general bloom. Fine ran- 
chos have been selected on both sides the stream, and stocked with 
cattle, some of which were now very fat. A rancho here is owned 
by Neal, who formerly belonged to my exploring party. There is 
a rancheria (Indian village) near by, and some of the Indians glad- 
ly ran races for the head and offals of a fat cow which had been 
presented to us. They were entirely naked. The thermometer at 
2 in the afternoon was at 70°., two hours later at 74°., and 65°. at 
sunset; the wind east, and sky clear only in the west. 

The temperature at sunrise the next day was 50°, with cumuli in 
the south and west, which left a clear sky at 9, with a northwest 
wind, and temperature of 64°. We travelled 20 miles, and encamp- 
ed on Pine creek, another fine stream, with bottoms of fertile land, 
wooded 'with groves of large and handsome oaks, some attaining to 
six feet in diameter, and forty to seventy feet in height. At 4 in 
the afternoon the thermometer showed 74° and 64° at sunset; and 
the sky clear, except in the horizon. • . 

March 30. — The sun rose in masses of >cloads over the eastern 
mountains. A pleasant morning, with a sunrise temperature of 
46°. 5, and some mosquitoes — never seen, as is said, in the coast 
country; but at seasons of high water abundant and vehomous in 
the bottoms of the Joaquin and Sacramento. On the tributaries 
nearer the mountain but few are seen, and those go with the sun. 
Continuing up the valley, we crossed in a short distance a large 
wooded creek, having now about thirty-five feet breadth of water. 
Our road was over an upland prairie of the Sacramento, having a 
yellowish, gravelly soil, generally two or three miles from, the river, 
and twelve or fifteen from the foot of the eastern mountains. On 
the west it was or 30 miles to the foot of the mountains, which 
here make a bed of hfgh ar.d brokep ranges. In the afternoon, about 
half a mile above its mouth, we encamped on Deer creek, another 
of these beautiful tributaries to the Sacramento. It has the usual 
broad and fertile bottom lands common to these streams, wooded 
with groves of oak and a large sycamore, {platanus occidentalism') 
distinguished by bearing its balls in strings of three to five, and 
peculiar to California. Mr. Lassen, a native of Germany, has es- 
tablished a rancho here, which he has stocked, and is gradually 
bringing into cultivation. Wheat, as generally throughout the north 
country, gives large returns; cotton, planted in the way of experi- 
ment, was not injured by frost, and succeeded well; and he has 
lately planted a vineyard, for which the Sacramento valley is con- 
sidered to be singularly well adapted. The seasons are not yet suf- 
ficiently understood, and too little has been done in agriculture, to 
afford certain knowledge of the capacities of the country. This 
farm is in the 40th degree of latitude; our position on the river 
being in 30°. 57'. 00"., and longitude 121°. 56'. 44^'. west from Green- 
wich, and elevation above the sea 560 feet. About three miles 
above the mouth of this stream are the first rapids — the present 
head of navigation — in the Sacramento river, which, from the ,ra- 
f>ids to its mouth in the bay, is more than 200 miles long, and in- 

[ 148 ] , ii 

creasing in breadth from 150 yards to 600 yards in the lower part 
of its course. 

During six days that we remained here, from the 30th March to 
the 5th April, the mean tenaperature was 40° at sunrise, 52°. 5. at 
9 in the morning, 57°. 2 at noon, 59°. 4 at 2 in the afternoon, 58°. 8 
at 4, and 52° at sunset; at the corresponding times the dew 
point .was at 37°. 0, 41°. 0, 38°. 1, 39°. 6, 44°. 9, 40°. 5 ; and the 
moisture in a cubic foot of air 2.838 grs., 3.179 grs., 2.935 grs., 
3.034 grs., 3.766 grs., 3.150 grs., respectively. Much cloudy w'ea-' 
ther and some showers of rain, during this interval, considerably 
reduced the temperature, which rose with fine weather on the 5th. 
Salmon was now abuntiant in the Sacramento. Those which we 
obtained were generally between three and four feet in length, and 
appeared to be of two distinct kinds. It is said that as many as 
four different kinds ascend the river at different periods. Tdie great 
abundance in which this fish is found gives it an important place 
among the resources of the country. The salmon crowd in im- 
mense numbers up the Umpqua, Tlamath, and Trinity rivers, and 
into every little river and creek on the coast north of the Bay San 
Francisco, ascending the river Tlamath to the lake near its source, 
which is upwards of 4,000 feet above the sea,, and distant from it 
only about 200 miles. 

In the evening of the 5th we resumed our journey northward, 
and encamped on a little creek,'near the Sacramento, where an emi- 
grant from “ the Stated” w'as establishing himself, and had already 
.built a house. It is a handsome place, wooded with groves of oak, ' 
and along the creek are sycamore, ash, cottonwood, and willow. 
The day was fine, with a northwest wind. 

, The temperature at sunrise the next day, (April 6th,) was 42°, 
with a northeasterly wind. We continued up the Sacramento, 
which we crossed in canoes at a farm on the right bank of the 
river. The Sacramento was here about 140 yards wide, and with 
the actual stage of water, which I was informed continued several 
months, navigable for a steamboat. We encamped a few miles 
above, on a creek wooded principally with large oaks. Grass was 
good and abundant, with wild oats and pea vine in the bottoms. 
The day was fine, with a cool northwesterly breeze, which had in 
it the air of the high mountains. The wnld oatS here were not yet 

The snowy Peak of Shasil bore directly north, showing out high 
above the other mountains; Temperature at sunset 57°, with a 
west wind and sky partly clouded. 

^pril 7. — The temperature at sunrise was 37°., with a moist air; 
and a faiptly clouded sky indicated that the wind was southerly 
along the coast. We travelled toward the Shastl peak, the moun- 
tain ranges, on both sides of the valleys, being high and rugged, and 
snow-covered. Some remarkable peaks in the Sierra, to the east- 
ward, are called the Sisters, and, nearly opposite, the Coast Range 
shows a prominent peak, which we have called Mount Linn. 

Leaving the Sacramento, at a stream called Red Bank creek, and 
contijiuing to the head of one of its forks, we entered on a high 



and somewhat broke'n upland, timbered with at least four varieties 
of oaks, with mansanif a {arbutus Menziesii) and other shrubbery in- 
terspersed. A remarkable species of pine, having leaves in threes, 
(sometimes six to nine inches long,) with bluish foliage, and a 
spreading, oak-shaped top, was scattered through the timber. I 
have, rem;.tked Ijiat this tree grows lower down the mountains than 
the other pines, being found familiarly associated with the oaks, 
the first rnet after leaving the open valleys, and seeming to like a 
warm climate. Flowers were as usual abundant. The splendid 
California poppy characterized all the route along the valley. A 
species of clover was in bloom, and the berries of the mansanita 
were beginning to redden on some trees, while on others they were 
still in bloom. We encamped, at an elevation of about 1,000 feet 
above the sea, oh a large stream called Cottonwood creek, wooded 
on the bottoms with oaks, and with cottonwoods.along the bed, which 
is sandy and gravelly. The water was at this time about twenty 
yards wide, but is frequently fifty. The face of the country tra- 
versed during the day was gravelly, and the bottoms of^he creek 
wheVe we encamped have a sandy soil. 

There are six or seven rancherias of Indians on the Sacramento 
river between the farm where we had crossed the Sacramento and 
the mouth of this creek, and many others in the mountains about 
the heads of these streams. 

The next morning was cloudy, threatening rain, but the sky grew 
brighter as the sun rose, and a southerly wind changed to north- 
west, which brought, as it never fails to bring, clear weather. 

We continued 16 miles up the valley, and encamped on the Sacra- 
mento river. In the afternoon (April 8) the weather again grew 
thick, and in the evening rain began to fall in the valley and snow 
on the mountains. We were now near the head of the lower val- 
ley, and the face of the country and, the weather began sensibly to 
show the influence of the rugged mountains which surround and 
terminate it. 

The valley of the Sacramento is divided into upper and lower — 
the lower two hundred miles long, the upfmr about one hundred; 
and the latter not merely entitled to the distinction of upper, as 
being higher up on the river, but also as having a superior elevation 
of some thousands of feet above it. The division is strongly and 
geographically marked. The Shastl peak stands at the head of the 
lower valley, in the forks of the river, rising from a base of about 
1,000 feet, out of a forest of heavy timber. It ascends like an im- 
mense column upwards of 14,000 feet, (nearly the height of Mont 
Blanc,) the summit glistening with snow, and visible, from favora- 
ble points of view, at a distance of 140 miles down the valley. 
The river here, in descending from the upper valley, plunges down 
hrough a ca/ion, falling '2,000, feet in twenty miles. This upper 
\l!ey is 100 miles long, heavily timbered, the climate and produc- 
^ns modified by its altitude, its more northern position, and the 
Pximity and elevation of the neighboring mountains covered with 
It contains valleys of arable land, and is deemed capable of 



settlement. Added to the lower valley, it makes the whole valley 
of the Sacramento 3(J0 miles long. 

Jlpril 9 : — At 10 o’clock the rain which commenced the previous 
evening had ceased, and the clouds clearing away, we boated the 
.river, and continued our journey eastward toward the foot of the 
' Sierra. The Sacramento bottoms here are brcftid and prettily 
wooded, with soil of a sandy character. Our way led through very 
handsome, open woods, principally of oaks, mingled with a con- 
siderable quantity of the oak-shaped pine. Interspersed among 
these were bouquets or thickets of mansanita, and an abundant 
white-flowering shrub, now entirely covered with small blossoms. 
The head of the valley here (lower valley) is watered by many 
small streams, having fertile bottom lands, with a good range of 
grass and acorns. In about six miles we crossed a creek 20 or 25 
feet wide, and several miles farther descended into the broad bot- 
toms of a swift-stream* about 20 yards wide, called Cow creek, so 
named as being the range of a small band of cattle, which ran off 
here from a party on their way to Oregon. They are entirely \yild, 
and are hunted like other game. A large band of antelope was seen 
in the timber, and five'or six deer came darting through the woods. 
An antelope and several deer were killed. There appear to be two 
species of these deer — both of the kind generally called black-tailed'; 
one, a larger species frequenting the prairies and lower grounds; 
the other, much smaller, and found in the mountains only. The 
mountains in the northeast were black with clouds when we reached 
the creek, and very soon a fierce hall storm burst down on us, scat- 
tering our animals and covering the ground an inch in depth with 
hailstones about the size of wild cherries. The face of the country 
appeared as whitened by a fall of snow, and the weather became 
unpleasantly cold. The evening closed in with rain, and thunder 
rolling around the hills. Our elevation here was between 1,000 and 
1,100 feet. At sunrise the next morning the thermometer was at 
33®. The surrounding mountains showed a continuous line of snow, 
and the high peaks looked wintry. Turning to the southward, we 
retraced our steps down the valley, and reached Mr. Lassen’s, on 
Deer river, on the evening of the llih. The Sacramento bottoms 
between Antelope and Deer river were covered with oats, which 
had attained their full height, growing as in sown fields. The 
country here exhibited the maturity of spring. The California 
poppy was eVery where farming seed pods, and many plants were 
in flower and seed together. Some varieties of clover were just 
beginning to bloom. By the middle of the month the seed vessels 
of the California poppy, which, from its characteristic abundance, 
is a prominent feature \n the vegetation, had attained their full size; 
but the seeds of this and many other plants, although fully formed, 
were still green colored, and not entirely ripe. At this time I obtained 
from the San Joaquin valley seeds of the poppy, and other plant? 
black and fully ripe, while they still remained green in this part / 
the Sacramento — the effect of a warmer climate in the valley of 
San Joaquin. The mean temperature for 14 days, from the lOtb^ 
the 24th of April, was 43° at sunrise, 6S° at 9 in the Inorning,^ 

'27 [ 148 ] 

at noon, 66° at 2 in the afternoon, 69° at 4, and 58° at sunset, (.lat- 
itude 40°. ) The thermometer ranged at sunrise from 38° to 51°, 
at 4 (which is the hottest of those hours of the day when the tem- 
perature was noted) from 53° to 88°, and at sunset from 49° to 65°. 
The dew point was 40. °3 at sunrise, 47. °3 at 9 in the morning, 
46. ®1 at noon, 49. °2 at 2 in the alternoon, 49. °2 at 4, and 46. °6 at 
sunset; and the quantity of moisture in a cubic foot of air at cor- 
responding times was 3.grs,104, 3.grs.882, 3.grs.807, 4.grs.213, 
4 grs.217, 3.grs.884, respectively. The wihds fluctuated between 
northwest and southeast, the temperature depending more upon the 
state of the sky than the direction of winds — a clouded sky always 
lowering the thermometer fifteen or twenty degrees in a short time. 
For the greater number of the days above given the sky was cov- 
ered and the atmosphere frequently thick, with rain at intervals 
from the 19th to the 23d. 

On the 25th May we returned to this place (Lassen’s) from an 
excursion to the Upper Sacramento.. The plants we had left in 
bloom were now generally in seed; and many, including the char- 
acteristic plants, perfectly ripe. The mean temperature of a few 
days ending May was 54°. 7 at sunrise, 70°. 6 at noon, and 67°. 3 at 
sunset. Travelling south into the more, open and wider part of the 
valley, where the bordering mountains are lower and showed less 
snow, the temperature increased rapidl^. At f/ie Buttes — an iso- 
lated mountain ridge about six iniles long and about 2,690 feet above 
the sea — the mornings were pleasantly cool for a few hours, but 
before ten the heat of the sun became very great, though usu- 
ally tempered by a refreshing breeze. The heat was usua'lly greatest 
about four in the afternoon. The mean temperature from May 27th 
to Ju'ne 6th, was 64°. at suprise, 79°. at nine in the morning, 86°. 
at noon, 90°. at two in the afternoon, 91°. at four, and 80°. at sun- 
set, ranging from 53°. to 79°. at sunrise — from 85°. to 98°. at four 
in the afternoon — and from 73°. to 89°. at sunset. The place of 
observation was at the eastern base of the Buttes^ about 800 feet 
above the sea, latitude 39° 12', and one of the warmest situations 
in the Sacramento valley. At corresponding times* the dew point 
was at 56. °5, 62.°4, 66. °5, 68. °2, 66. °6, 66.°9, and the quantity of 
moisture in a cubic foot of air 5.grs.253, 6.grs 318, 7.grs.l91, 
7.grs.495, 7.grs.l64, and 7.grs.269, respectively. We felt the heat 
here more sensibly than at any other place where our journeying 
brought us in California. The hunters-always left the camp before 
daylight, and were in by nine o’clock, after which the sun' grew 
hot. Game was very fat and abundant; upwards of eighty deer, 
elk, and bear were killed in one morning. The range consisted of 
excellent grasses, wild oats in fields, red and other varieties of clo- 
ver, some of which were now in mature seed and others beginning 
to flower. Oats were now drying in level places where exposed to 
the full influence of the sun, remaining green in moister places and 
on the hill slopes. 

The mean temperature of the open valley between the Buttes 
and the American fork from the 8th to the 21st June, was 57°. at 
sunrise, 74° at nine in ^he morning, 85° at noon, 87° at two in 



the afternoon, 88°. at four, and 77°. at sunset; ranging at sunrise 
from 51°. to 61°.; at 4 from 81°. to 97°., and at sunset from 71°. to 
85°. The dew point at corresponding times was 52°. 8, 58°. 8, 
62°. 1, 66°. 8, 62°. 5, 60°. 7, and the quantity of moisture in a cubic 
foot of air being 4.685 grs., 5.709 grs., 6.320 grs., 7.217 grs., 6.377 
grs., 5.973 grs., respectively. 

Western slope of the Sierra Nevada . — The western flank of this 
Sierra belongs to the maritime region of California, and is capable 
of adding greatly to its value. It is a long, wide slope, timbered 
and grassy, with intervals of arable land, copiously watered with 
numerous and bold streams, and without the cold which its name 
and altitude might imply. In length it is the whole extent of the 
long valley at its base, five hundred miles. In breadth, it is from 
forty to seventy miles from the summit of the mountain to the ter- 
mination of the foot hills in the edge of the valleys below, 
and almost the whole of it available for some useful purpose — 
timber, pasturage, some arable land, mills, quarries — and so sit- 
uated as to be convenient for use, the. wide slope of the mountain 
being of easy and practicable descent. Timber holds the first place 
in the advantages of this slope, the whole being heavily wooded, 
first with oaks, which predominate to about half the* elevation of 
the mountain; and then with pines, cypress, and cedars, the pines 
predominating; and henc#, called the pine region, as that below is 
called the oak region, though mixed with other trees. The highest 
summits of the Sierra are naked, massive granite rock, covered 
with snow, in sheltered places, all the year round. The oaks are 
several varieties of white and black oak, and evergreens,, some of 
them resembling live oak. Of the white oak there are some new 
species, attaining a handsome Olevatiqn, upon a stem six feet in 
diameter. Acorns of uncommon size, and not bad taste, used regu- 
larly for food by the Indians, abound on these trees, and will be of 
great value for stock. The cypress, pine, and cedar are between 
100 and 250 feet high, and five to twevle feet in diameter, with 
clean solid stems. Grass abounds on almost all parts of the slope; 
except towards the highest summits, and is fresh and green all the 
year round, being neither killed by cold in the winter, nor dried 
by want of rain in the summer. The foot hills of the slope are 
sufficiently fertile and gentle to admit of good settlements; while 
valleys, coves, beaches, and meadows of arable land are found 
throughout. Many of the numerous streams, some of them amount- 
ing to considerable rivers, which flow down the mountain side, 
make handsome, fertile valleys. A}1 these streams furnish good 
water power. The climate in the lower part of the slope is that of 
constant spring, while above, the cold is not in proportion to the 
elevation. Such is the general view of the western slope of the 
great Sierra; but deeming that all general views should rest upon 
positive data, I ado some notes taken from actual observations 
made in different ascents and descents in the winter and spring of 
l845-’46, and in different degrees of latitude from 35° to 41°. 

"December 1845. — Descent from the pass, at the head of Salmon 
Trout river, latitude 39° 17', elevation 7,200 feet. At 3 in the 



afternoon the temperature at 46®, at sunset 34®, at ' sunrise next 
morning ’22®; the sky perfectly clear; no snow in the pass, but much 
on the mouhtain tops. Here the present emigrant road now Crosses. 
A fork of bear river (a considerable stream tributary to Feather 
river, which falls into the Sacramento) leads from the pass, arid the 
road follows it; but findin,g this a rugged way, we turned to the 
south, and encamped in a mountain meadow of good green grass. 
A yellow moss very abundant on, the north sides of the pines. 

^ December 6. — The route was over good travelling ground, through 
open pine forest ori a broad, leading ridge, affording an excellent 
road. A species of cedar {Thuya gigantea) occurred, often of extraor- 
dinary height and size. Pinuslamhertiani was one of the most fre- 
quent trees, distinguished among cone-bearing tribes by the length 
of its cones, sometimes sixteen or eighteen inches long. The In- 
dians eat the inner part of the burr, and large heaps of them were 
seen where they had been collected. Leaving the higher ridges, 
and gaining the smoother spurs, and descending about 4,000 feet, 
the face of the country changed rapidly. The country became low, 
rolling, and pretty; the pines began to disappear, and varieties of 
oak, and principally an evergreen resembling live oak, became the 
predominating forest growth. These oaks bear great quantities of 
large acorns, the principal food of all the wild Indians. At a vil- 
lage of a few huts which we came upon, there was a large supply 
of these acorns — eight or ten cribs of wicker work, containing about 
twenty bushels each. The best acorns are obtained from a large 
tree belonging to the division of white oaks, which is very abund- 
ant, and generally forms the groves on the vbottom lands of the 
streams — standing apart, with a clean undergrowth of grass, giving 
them^the appearance of cultivated parks. It is a noble forest tree, 
already mentioned as a new species, sixty to eighty feet high, with 
a tufted summit of spreading branches, and frequently attains a 
diameter of six feet. The largest we measured reached eleven feet. 
The evergreen oaks generally have a low growth, with long branches 
and spreading tops. Some of them are suitable for ship timber, 
and have already been used for that purpose. 

At our evening encampment of the 8th, which was at an elevation 
of five hundred feet above the sea, latitude 38® 53', and distant 
from the seacoast about one hundred miles, the temperature at sun- 
set was 48®, the sky clear and calm, weather delightful, and the 
vegetation that of early spring. We were still upon the foot hills 
of the mountain, where ‘the soil is sheltered by woods, and where 
rain falls much more frequently than in the open Sacramento val- 
ley, near the edge of which we then were. I have been in copious, 
continuous rains of eighteen or twenty hours’ duration in the oak 
region of the mountain, when not a drop fell in the valley below. 
Innumerable small streams have their rise and course through these 
foot hills, which never reach the river of the valley, but are ab- 
sorbed in its light s6il. The large streams coming from the upper 
parts of the mountain make valleys of their own, of fertile soil, 
covered with luxuriant grass and interspersed with groves. This is 
the general character of the foot hills throughout the entire length 



of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys — a broad belt of coun- 
try, and probably destined to become a vine growing, as well as a 
grain and pastoral country. 

December 9. — Entered the valley of the Sacramento. Fresh, 
green grass for eight or ten miles into the valley, cattle feeding 
upon it, or lying under the shade of trees— the shade being pleasant 
to our own feelings. Further in, towards the middle of the valley, 
where the spring rains had not yet commenced, the country looked 
parched and dry, the grass eaten down by the cattle, which were 
quite fat and fine beef. ’ * 

Ascent^ December and January, l845-’46, latitude 37®. Entering 
the mountain by the Rio Reyes of Tulare lake, (December 24,) we 
found its general character very similar to what it was in the more 
northern part, (latitude 39°,) the timber perhaps less heavy and 
more open, and the mountain generally more rough, extremely 
rocky in the upper parts, but wooded up to the granite ridges which 
compose its rocky eminences. At the elevation of 3,500 feet the 
ridges were covered with oaks and pines intermixed, and the bot- 
tom lands with oaks, cottonwood, and sycamores. Small varieties 
of evergreen oaks reached the observed height of 9,480 feet, at 
which elevation pinus lamhertiani^ and other varieties of pine, fir, 
and cypress, were large and lofty trees. During the latter part of 
December and first days of January the average temperature of the 
oak region, going to about5,000 feet above the sea, was, at sunrise, 
34. °6', and at sunset 50. °5'. In the piney region, between this height 
and 1,100 feet, the average at sunrise \vas 28. °7', and 3^ sunset -30° 
4'. The lowest observed temperature was at sunset of January 1, 
when the sky had entirely cleared after a severe snow storm. The 
thermometer then stood at 8.°5, the elevation above the sea being 
9,400 feet. Descending to the oak region, spring weather, rain and 
sunshine, prevailed. At an elevation of 4,500 feet the temperature, 
at the night encampment of the 3d day of January, w'as 38“ at sun- 
set, and the same at sunrise, the grass green, and growing freshly 
under the oaks. The snow line was then at about 6,000 feet above 
the level of tFe sea. Rain had begun to fall in the valley of the 
San Joaquin in this latitude (37°) on the 20th of December, and 
snow at the same time upon the summit of the mountain. The 
mean temperature of the mountain during this ascent and descent 
(December 24 to January 8) was 3l°.6 at ^unrise, 40°. 4 at sunset. 

Descent by Mr. Kern’s party, latitude 35°. 30', December "and 
January. Mr. Kern, with a detached party', had crossed the Sierra 
about one hundred miles further south, nearly opposite the head of 
the Tulare lakes, and. remained encamped in a valley or cove, near 
the summit of the Sierra, at the head of Kern’s river, from Decem- 
27th to January 17th; the cove well wooded with evergreen oaks, 
some varieties of pine, firs and cedars, maintaining the usual ma- 
jestic growth, which characterizes the cone-bearing trees of the 
Sierra. Until the 12th of January the weather almost that of sum- 
mer, when the rains commenced, which was almost three weeks 
later than in latitude 37°. The 17th there was a fall of snow, 
washed off in the cove by a rain in the afternoon, the high ridges 



remaining covered a foot deep. The mean temperature in the cove 
from December 27th to January 17lh was at sunrise 26®, at noon 
•60®, at sunset 52®. After that, snow and rain, alternated with sun- 
shine, snow remaining on the ridges, and winter set in fairly on all 
the upper half of the mountain. 

Ascent about latitude 41®, (April and May,) April 26, 1846 — 
head of the lower Sacramento valley. Left the river Sacramento, 
going up one of the many pretty little streams that flow into the 
river around the head of the lower valley. On either side low, 
steep ridges were covered along their summits with, pine, and oaks 
occupied the somewhat broad bottoms of the creek. Snowy peaks 
made the horizon on the right, and the temperature at noon was 
71®, but the day was still and hot. The small streams are nu- 
merous here and have much bottom land; grass and acorns abund- 
ant, and both of excellent quality. Encampe^d'iu the evening in 
latitude 40® 38' 58", elevation above the sea*l,080 feet, tempera- 
ture at sunset 56®, weather pleasant. Grisly bears numerous, four 
being killed by the hunters after we had encamped. 

April 27. — Found a good way along a flat ridge, a pretty, open 
mountain stream on the right, the country beginning to assume a 
mountainous character, wooded with mingled oak and long leaved 
pine, and having a surface of scattered rocks, with grass and 
flowers. At noon, crossing a high ridge, the thermometer showed 
61®. At night, at an elevation of 2,460 feet, we encamped on a 
creek that went roaring into the valley; teftiperature at sunset 52®. 

28th, continued up the stream on which we had encamped, the 
country rising rapidly, clothed with heavy timber. On crossing 
one of the high ridges, snow and pinus lambertiani appeared to- 
gether. An hour before noon reached the pass in the main ridge, 
in an open pine forest, elevation 4,600 feet, thermometer at 50®, 
latitude near 41°. Snow in patches, and deciduous oaks mixed with 
the pines. 

Returning- upon a different line, towards the lower valley of 
the Sacramento, near its head, we found in the descent a truly 
magnificent forest. It was composed mainly of a cypress and a 
lofty white cedar {Thuya gigantea) 120 to 140 feet, high,) common 
in the mountains of California. All were massive trees; but the 
cypress was distinguished by its uniformly great 'bulk. None were 
seen so large as are to be found in the coast mountaihs near Santa 
Cruz, but there was a greater number of large trees — seven feet 
being a common diameter — carrying the bulk eighty or a hundred 
feet without a lirnb. At an elevation of four thousand six hundred 
feet the temperature at sunset was 48°, and at sunrise 37°.- Oaks 
already appeared among the pines, but did not yet show a leaf. 
In the meadow marshes of the forest grass was green, but not 
yet abundant, and the deer were poor. Descending the flanks of 
the mountain, which fell gradually towards the plain, the way was 
through the sartie deep forest. At the elevation of about 3,000 feet 
the timber had become more open, the hills rolling, and many 
streams made pretty bottoms of rich grass; the black oaks in full 
and beautiful leaf were thickly studded among the open pines. 

32 • 


which had become much smaller and fewer in variety, and when 
we halted near midday, at an elevation of 2,200 feet, we were in one 
of the most pleasant days of late spring; cool and sunny, with a plea- 
sant breeze, amidst a profusion of various flowers; many trees in 
dark summer foliage, and some still in bloom. Among these the 
white spikes of the horse-chesnut, common through all the oak re- 
gion, were conspicuous. We had again reached summer weather, 
and the temperature at noon was 70°. 

In the afternoon we descended to the open valley of the Sacra- 
mento, 1,000 feet lower, where the thermometer was 68°. at sunset, 
and 54®. at sunrise. This was the best timbered region that I had 
seen, and the more valuable from its position near the head pf the 
lower valley of the Sacramento, and accessible from its waters. 

Bay of San Fray,ci'sco and dependent country . — The bay of San 
Francisco has been celebrated, from the time of its first discovery, 
as one of the finest in the world, and is justly entitled to thj?! char- 
acter even under the, seaman’s view of a mere harbor. But when 
all the accessory advantages which belong to it — fertile and pictu- 
resque dependent country; mildness and salubrity of climate; con- 
nexion with the great interior valley of the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin; its vast resources for ship timber, grain and cattle — when 
these advantages are taken into the acccount, with its geographical 
position on the line of communication with Asia, it rises into an im- 
portance far above that of a 'mere harbor, and deserves a particular 
notice in any account of maritime California. Its latitudinal posi- 
tion is that of Lisbon; its climate is that of southern Italy; settle- 
ments upon it for more than half a century attest its healthiness; 
bold shores and mountains give it grandeur; the extent and fertil- 
ity of its dependent country give it great resourced for agriculture, 
commerce, and population. 

The bay of San Francisco is separated from the sea by low moun- 
tain ranges. Looking -from the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the 
coast mountains present an apparently continuous line, with only a 
single gap, resembling a mountain pass. This is the entrance to 
the great bay, and is th'p only water communication from the coast 
to the interior country. Approaching from the sea, the coast pre- 
sents a bold outlin^e. On the south, the bordering mountains come 
down in a narrow ridge of broken hills, terminating in a precipi- 
tous point, against which the sea breaks heavily. On the northern 
side, the mountain presents a bold promontory, rising in a few miles 
to a height of two or three thousand feet. Between these points 
is the strait — about one mile broad, in the narrowest part, and five 
miles long from the sea to the bay. Passing through this gate,* the 
bay opens to the right and left, extending in each direction about 

•Called Chrysopylts (Golden gate) on the map, on the same principle that the harbor of 
Byzantium (Constantinople afterwards) was called Chrysoceras (golden horn.) The form 
of the harbor, and its advantages for commerce, (and that before it became an entVepot of 
eastern commerce,) suggested the name to the Greek founders of Byzaniium. The form of 
the entrance into the bay of San Francisoo, and its advantages for commerce, (Asiatic in- 
clusive,) suggest the name which is given tp this entrance. 



35 miles, having a total length of more than 70, and a coast of about 
275 miles. It is divided, by straits and projecting points, into three 
separate bays, of which the northern two are called San Pablo and 
Suisoon bays. Within, the view presented is of a mountainous 
country, the bay resembling an interior lake of deep water, lying 
between parallel ranges of mountains. Islands, which have the 
bold character of the shores — some mere masses of rock, and others 
grass covered, rising to the height of three and eight hundred feet — 
break its surface, and add to its picturesque appearance. Directly 
fronting the entrance, mountains a few miles from the shore rise 
about 2,000 feet above the water, crowned by a forest of the lofty 
cypress, which is visible from the sea, and , makes a conspicuous 
landmark for vessels entering the bay. Behind, the rugged peak 
of Mount Diavolo, nearly 4,000 feelj high, (3,770,) overlooks the 
surrounding country of the bay and San Joaquin. The immediate 
shore of the bay derives, from its proximate and opposite relation 
to the sea, the name of contra costa (counter-coast, or opposite 
coast.) It presents a varied character of rugged and broken hills, 
rolling and undulating land, and rich alluvial shores backed by fer- 
tile and wooded ranges, suitable for towns, villages, and farms, 
with which it is beginning to be dotted. A low alluvial bottom 
land, several miles in breadth, with occasional open woods of oak, 
borders the foot of the mountains around the southern arm* of the 
bay, terminating on a breadth of twenty miles in the fertile valley 
of St. Joseph, a narrow plain of rich soil, lying between ranges 
from two to three thousand feet high. The valley is openly wooded 
with groves of oak, free from underbrush, and after the spring rains 
covered with grass. Taken in connexion with the valley of San 
Juan, with which it forms a continuous plain, it is fifty-five miles 
long and one to twenty brcfhd, opening into smaller valleys among 
the hills. At the head of the bay it is twenty miles broad, and 
about the same at the southern end, where the soil is beautifully 
fertile, covered in summer with four or five varieties of wild clover 
several feet high. In many places it is overgrown with wild mus- 
tard, growing ten or twelve feet high, in almost impenetrable fields, 
through which roads are made like lanes. On both sides the moun- 
tains are fertile, wooded, or covered with grasses and scattered 
trees. On the west it is protected from the chilling influence of 
the north-west winds by the cuesta de los gatos, (wild-cat ridge,) 
which separates it from the coast. This is a grassy and timbered 
mountain, watered with small streams, and wooded on both sides 
with lany varieties of trees and shrubbery, the heavier forests of 
pine and cypress occupying the western slope. Timber and shin- 
gles are now obtained from this mountain; and one of the recently 
discovered quicksilver mines is on the. eastern side of the moun- 
tain, near the Pueblo of San Jose. This range terminates on the 
south in the Anno JYuevo point of Monterey bay, and on the north 
declines into a ridge of broken hills about five miles wide, between 
the bay and the sea, and having the town of San Francisco on the 
bay shore, near its northern extremity. 

Sheltered from the cold winds and fogs of the sea, and having a 



soil of remarkable fertility, the valley of St. Joseph (San Jose) is 
capable of producing in great perfection many fruits and grains 
which do not thrive on the coast in its immediate vicinity. With- 
out taking into consideration the extraordinary yields which have 
sometimes occurred, the fair average product of wheat is estimated 
at fifty fold, or fifty for one sown. The mission establishments of 
Sana Clara and San Jose, in the north end of the valley, were for- 
merly, in the prosperous days of the missions, distinguished for the 
superiority of their wheat crops. 

The slope of alluvial land continues entirely around Jthe eastern 
shore of the bay, intersected by small streams, and offering some 
points which good landing and deep water, with" advantageous po- 
siitions between the ^ea and interior country, indicate for future 

The strait of Carquines, about one mile wide and eight or ten 
fathoms deep, connects the San Pablo and Suisoon hays. Around 
these bays smaller valleys open into the bordering country, and 
some of the streams have a short launch navigation, which serves 
to convey produce to the bay. Missions and large farms were es- 
tablished at the head of navigation on these streams, which are 
favorable sites for towns or villages. The country around the Sui- 
soon bay presents smooth low ridges and rounded hills, clothed 
with wild oats, and more or less openly wooded on their summits. 
Approaching its northern shores from Sonoma it assumes, though in 
a state of nature, a cultivated and beautiful appearance. Wild oats 
cover it in continuous fields, and herds of cattle and bands of horses 
are scattered over low hills and partly isolated ridges, where blue 
mists and openings among the abruptly terminating hills indicate 
the neighborhood of the bay. 

The Suisoon is connected with an expansion of the river formed 
by the junction of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, which enter the 
Francisco bay in the samq latitude, nearly, as the mouth of the 
Tagus at Lisbon. A delta of twenty-five miles in length, divided 
into islands by deep channels, connects the bay with the valley of 
the San Joaquin and Sacramento, into the mouths of which the tide 
flows, and which enter the bay together as one river. 

Such is the bay, and the proximate country and shores of the bay 
of San Francisco. It is not a mere indentation of the coast, but a 
little sea to itself, connected with the ocean by a defensible gate, 
openin’g out between seventy and eighty miles to the right and left, 
upon a breadth of ten to fifteen, deep enough for the largest 
ships, with bold shores suitable for towns and settlements, and fer- 
tile adjacent country for cultivation. The head of the bay is about 
forty miles from the sea, and there commences its connexion with 
the noble valleys of the San Joaquin and Sacramento. 

Coast country north of t/i’e bay of San Francisco. — Between the 
Sacramento valley and the coast, north of the hay of San Francisco, 
the country is broken into mountain ridges and rolling hills, with 
many very fertile valleys, made by lakes a»d small streams. In 
the interior it is wooded, generally with oak, and immediately along 
the coast presents open prairie lands, among heavily timbered for- 



ests, having a greater variety of trees, and occasionally a larger 
growth than the timbered region of the Sierra Nevada. In some 
parts it is entirely covered, in areas of many miles, with a close 
growth of wild oats, to the exclusion o"f almost every other plant. 
In t^e latter part of June and beginning of July, we found here a 
climate sensibly different from that of the Sacramento valley, a few 
miles east, being much cooler and moister. In clear weather, the 
mornings were like those of the Rocky mountains in August, pleas- 
ant and cool, followyig cold*cl.ear nights. In that part lying nearer 
the coast, we found the mornings sometimes cold, accompanied 
with chilling winds; and fogs frequently came rolling up over the 
ridges from the sea. These sometimes rose at evening, and con- 
tinued until noon of the next day. They are not dry, but wet 
mists, leaving the face of the country covered as by a drizzling 
rain. This sometimes causes rust in wheat grown within its influ- 
ence, but vegetables flourish and attain extraordinary size. 

I learned frocd Captain Smith, a resident aX. Bodega, that the win- 
ter months make a delightful season — rainy days (generally of warm 
showers) alternating with mild and calm, pleasant weather, and 
pure bright skies — much preferable to the summer, when the fogs 
and strong northwest winds, which prevail during the greater part 
of the year, make the morning part of the day disagreeably cold. 

Owing probably to the fogs, spring is earlier along the coast than 
in the interior, where, during the interval between the rains, the 
ground becomes very dry. Flowers bloom in December, and by 
the beginning of February grass acquires a strong and luxuriant 
growth, and fruit trees (peach, pear, apple, &c.) are covered with 
blossoms. In situations immediately open to the sea the fruit 
ripens late, generally at the end of August, being retarded by the 
chilling influence of the northwest winds: a short distance inland, 
where intervening ridges obstruct these winds and shelter the face 
of the country, there is a different climate and a remarkable differ- 
ence in the time of ripening fruits; the heat of the sun. has full 
influence on the soil, and vegetation goes rapidly to perfection. 

The country in July began to present the dry appearance common 
to all California as the summer advances, except along the northern 
coast within the influence of the fogs, or where the land is shelter- 
ed by forests, and in the moist vallies of streams and coves of the 
hills. In some of these was an uncommonly luxuriant growth of 
oats, still partially green, while elsewhere they were dried up; the 
face of the country presenting generally a mellow and ripened, ap- 
pearance, and the small streams beginning to lose their volume, and 
draw up into the hills. 

This northern part of the coast country is heavily timbered, more 
so aS it goes north to the Oregon boundary, (42®,) with many bolA 
streams falling directly into the sea. 

The country between the hays of San Francisco and Monterey . — 
In the latter part of January, 1846, aj'ew shrubs and flowers were 
already in bloom on the sandy shore of Monterey bay (lat. 36° 
40'.) Among these were the Califo"nia poppy, and nemophila in- 



On the 5th Eebruary I found many shrubs and plants in bloom, 
in the coast mountains bordering St. Joseph’s valley’, between Mon- 
terey and the bay of San Francisco; and vegetation appeared much • 
more green and spring-like, and further advanced, than in the 
plains. About the middle of February I noticed the geraniunp in 
flower in the valley; ami from that time vegetation began generally 
to bloom. Cattle were obtained in February, from ranchos among 
the neighboring hills, extremely fat, selected from the herds- in 
the range. * 

During the months of January and February rainy days alternated 
with longer intervals of fair and pleasant weather, which is the 
character of the rainy season in California. The mean temperature 
in the valley of St. Joseph — open to the bay»of San Francisco — 
from the l3th to the 22d of February, was 50° at sunrise, and 61° at 
sunset. The oaks in this valley, especially along the foot of the 
hills, are partly covered with Icmg hanging moss — an indication of 
much humidity in the climate. 

We rema ned several days, in the latter part of February, in the 
upper portion of the coast mountain between St. Joseph and Santa 
Cruz. The place of our encampment was 2,000 feet above the sea, 
and was covered with a luxuriant growth of grass, a foot high in 
many places. At sunrise the temperature was 40°; at noon 60°; at 
4 in the afternoon 65°; and 63° at sunset; with very pleasant wea- 
ther. The mountains were wooded with many varieties of trees, 
and in some parts with heavy forests. These forests are character- 
ized by a cypress {taxodium) of extraordinary dimensions, already 
mentioned among the trees of the Sierra Nevada, which is distin- 
guished among the forest trees of America by its superior size and 
height. Among many which we measured in this part of the moun- 
tain, nine and ten feet diameter was frequent — eleven sometimes; 
but going beyond eleven only in a single tree, which reached four- 
teen feet in diameter. Above two hundred feet was a frequent 
height. In this locality the bark was very deeply furrowed, and 
unusually thick, being fully sixteen inches in some of the trees. 
The tree was now in bloom, flowering near the summit, and fhe 
flowers consequently difficult to procure. This is the staple timber 
tree of the country, being cut into both boards and shingles, and is 
the principal timber sawed at the mills. It is soft, and easily 
worked, wearing away too quickly to be used for floors. It seems 
to have all the durability which anciently gave the cypress so much 
celebrity. Posts which have been exposed to the weather for three 
quarters of .a century (since the foundation of the missions) show 
no marks of decay in the wood, and are now converted into beams 
and posts for private buildings. In California this tree is called 
tfie palo Colorado. It is the king of trees. 

Among the oaks is a handsome lofty evergreen species, specific- 
ally different from those of the lower grounds, and in its general 
appearance much resembling, hickory. The bark is smootli, of a 
white color, and the. wood hard and close grained. It seems to 
prefer the north hill sides, where some were nearly four feet in 
diameter and a hundred feel high. 


[ 148 ] 

Another remarkable tree of these woods is called in the language 
of the country madrono. It is a beautiful evergreen, w'ith large, 
thick, and glossy digitate leaves, the trunk and branches reddish 
colored, and having a smooth and singularly naked appearance, 
as if the bark had been stripped off. In its green state the wood 
is brittle, very heavy, hard, and close grained; it is said to assume 
a red color when dry, sometimes variegated, and susceptible 
of a high polish. This tree was found by us only in the moun- 
tains. Some measured nearly four feet in diameter, and were about 
sixty feet high. 

A few scattered flowers were now showing throughout the forests, 
and on the, open ridges shrubs were flowering; but the bloom was 
not yet general. 

On the 25th February, we descftided to the coast near the north- 
western point of Monterey bay, losing our fine weather, which in 
the evening changed into a cold southeasterly^ storm, continuing 
with heavy and constant rains for several days. 

During this time the mean temperature was 53° at sunrise, 56°.5 at 
9h., a. m., 57°. 5 at noon, 54°. 5 at 2h .in the afternoon, 53°. 4 at 4, and 
52°. 7 at sunset. On the 28th, a thick fcf^ was over the bay and on 
the mountains at sunrise, and the thermometer was at 38° — 15° be- 
low the ordinary temperature — rising at 9 o’clock to 59°. These 
fogs prevail along the coast during a great part of the summer and 
autumn, but do not cross the ridges into the interior. This locality 
is celebrated for the excellence and great size of its vegetables, 
(especially the Irish potato and onions,) with which, for this rea- 
son, it has for many years supplied the shipping which visits Mon- 
terey. A forest of palo Colorado at the foot of the mountains in this 
vicinity, is noted for the great size and height of the trees. I 
measured one which was 275 feet in height and fifteen feet in 
diameter, three feet above the base. Though this was distin- 
guished by the greatest girth, other surrounding trees were but 
little inferior in size and still taller. Their colossal height and 
massive bulk give an air of grandeur to the forest- 

These trees grow tallest in the bottom lands, and prefer moist 
soils and north hill sides. In situations where they are protected 
from the prevailing northwest winds, they shoot up to a great 
heighth; but wherever their heads are exposed, these winds appear 
to chill them and stop their growth. They then assume a spread- 
ing shape, with larger branches, and an apparently broken sum- 

The rain storm closed with February, and the weather becom- 
ing fine, on the 1st of March we resumed our progress along the 
coast. Over the face of the country between Santa Cruz and 
Monterey, and around the plains of St. John, the grass, which had 
been eaten down by the large herds of cattle, was now every 
where springing up; flowers began to show their bloom, and in the 
valleys of the mountains bordering the Salinas plains, (a plain of 
some fifty miles in length, made by the Salinas river,) wild oats 
were three feet high, and well headed, by the 6th of March. 

During three days that we remained on one of these mountains, 



^delightful. The days were hot, at evening cool, and the morning 
weather clear and exhilirating. Descending into the valley, we 
found it open and handsome, making a pleasing country, well 
W'ooded, and everywhere covered with grass of a good quality. 
The coast range is wooded on both sides and to the summit with 
varieties of oaks and pines. The upper part of the Salinas valley, 
where we are now travelling, would afford excellent stock farms, 
and is particularly well suited to sheep. The country never be- 
comes miry in the rainy season, and none jre lost by cold in the 
mild winter. 

The good range, grass and acorns, made game abundant, and 
deer and grisly bear were numerous. Twelve of the latter were 
killed by the party in one thicket. 

Lower down, in the neighborhood of San Miguel, the country 
changed its appearance, losing its timbered and grassy character, 
and showing much sand. The past year had been one of unusual 
drought, and the river had almost entirely disappeared, leaving a 
bare sandy bed with a few pools of water. About fifteen miles 
below San Miguel it enters a ‘gorge of the hills, making broad 
thickly wooded bottoms, and affording good* range and abundance 
of water, the bed being sheltered by the thick timber. The lower 
hills and spurs from the ranges, bordering the river, are very dry 
and bare, affording little or no grass. Approaching the mission of 
Soledad the river valley widens, making fertile bottoms and plains 
of arable land, some fifteen to twenty miles broad, extending to 
Monterey bay, and bordered by ranges of mountain from two to 
three thousand feet high. These ranges have the character of fer- 
tile mountains, their hills being covered with grass and scattered 
trees, and their vallies producing fields of wild oats, and wooded 
with oak groves. Being unsheltered by woods, water is not abund- 
ant in the dry season, but at the end of September we found springs 
among the hills, and water remained in the creek beds. 

On the evening of the 25th September, cumuli made their ap- 
pearance in the sky, and the next morning w^as cloudy with a warm 
southerly wind and a few drops of rain — the first of the rainy 
season. The weather then continued uninterruptedly dry through 
all October — fair and bright during the first part, but cloudy during 
the latter half. At the end of the month the rainy season sat in 
fully, consisting generally of rain squalls with bright weather in- 
tervening, and occasional southeasterly storms continuing several 
days. The previous seasons had been very short and light for se- 
veral years, and the country had suffered from the consequent 
drought. The present season commenced early, and was very fa- 
vorable. Much rain fell in the low country, and snow accumulated 
to a great depth in the high mountains. The first rains changed 
the face of the country. Grass immediately began to shoot up 
rapidly, and by the end of the first week of November the dead 
hue of the hills around Monterey had already given place to green. 

A brief sketch of the weather during a journey in this year from 
the mission of San Juan Bauptista (latitude 37°) to los Angeles 
will exhibit the ordinary character of the season. 



In the valley of San Juan, during the latter half of Jfovember, 
there was no rain; the weather, generally, pleeftant and bright, with 
occasional clouds. The night clear and cool, occasionally cold; 
the mornings clear and sharp, with boar frost sometimes covering 
the ground. The days were warm and pleasant, and the evenings 
mild and calm. On some mornings a thick fog settled down im- 
mediately after sunrise, but in a few hours cleared off into a pleas- 
ant day. 

The falling weather recommenced on the 30th, with a stormy 
day of spring; blue sky in spots, rapidly succeeded by masses of 
dark clouds and pouring rain, which fell heavily during greater 
part of the night. 

The morning of the 1st December was partially clear, but rain 
recommenced in a few hours, with sky entirely clouded. The 
weather brightened at noon, and from a high point of the hills bor- 
dering the St. Juan river valley, up which we were travelling, 
snow was visible on summits of the dividing range between the 
San Joaquin valley and the coast. It rained heavily and inces- 
santly during the night, and continued all the next^day. In the 
night the s% cleared off bright with a north wind,* but clouded ^ 
up at morning, with rain and a broken sky. There were showers 
of rain during the day, with intervals of bright and hot sun; and 
the sky at sunset was without a cloud. 

During the day and night of the 4th, there were occasional show- 
ers. The sky was tolerably clear on the morning of the 5th, with 
a prospect of fair weather. The tents were frozen, and snow ap- 
peared on the near ridges. We were then in a small interior val- 
ley of the mountains, bordering the Salinas river, and about 1,000 
feet above the sea. 

December the 6th was a beautiful day, followed by a cold frosty 

The next day we descended to the valley of the Salinas river, 
the weather continuing clear and pleasant during the day. Snow 
appeared on the mountains on both sides of the valley, and a cloud 
from some of them gave a slight shower during the night. Several 
suqcessive days were clear, with hot sun; the nights cold, starry, 
and frosty. The new grass on tli« hills was coming out vigorous- 
ly. The morning of the 10th was keen and clear, with scattered 
clouds, and a southerly wind, which brought up showers Of rain at 
night, followed by fog in the morning. 

On the 12th, at the mission of Santa Margarita, in the head of 
the Salinas valley, rain began in the aftetnoon, with a cold wind, 
and soon increased to a southeasterly storm, with heavy rain during 
all the night. The 13th was cloudy, with occasional showers. ■ 
During the night the weather became very bad, and by morning 
had increased to a violent and cold southeasterly rain storm- In 
the afternoon the storm subsided, and was followed by several days 
of variable weather. 

By the 19th, the country where we were travelling between San 
liHis Obispo and the Cuesta of Santa Ines, showed a handsome 
covering of grass, which required two weeks more to become ex- 



peditions which I have conducted, and which enable me to know 
what parts of the country most require examination, one year more 
of labor in the field would furnish me additional materials suffi- 
cient to complete a map of these countries, -^ith topographical and 
descriptive maps of their most valuable parts, and a general map 
of the whole from the Mississippi river to the Pacific ocean. Hav- 
ing been many years engaged in this geographical labor, and hav- 
ing made so much progress in it, I should be much gratified with 
an opportunity to complete it in the public employ; and I respect- 
fully submit the subject to the consideration of your honorable 

This geographical memoir, as stated in the beginning, is only a 
preliminary sketch in anticipation of a fuller publicatfon, which, 
the observations of the last expedition would justify, but not suf- 
ficient to give the full view of*Oregon and California which the in- 
creasing importance of those countries demands. The publication 
of the results of this expedition, with or without further additions 
from another exploration, is respectfully submitted to your consid- 
eration. The results of the pfevious ttvo expeditions were publish- 
ed by order of the Senate, and disposed of according to its pleasure. 
No copy-right was taken; and whatever information the journals of 
the two expeditions contained, passed at once into general circula- 
tion. I would prefer a similar publication of the results of the last 
expedition; but being no longer in the public service, an arrange- 
ment for the preparation and the superintendence of the publica- 
tion would be nepessary. 

All which is respectfully submitted: , 


Washington, June., 1848. 




I. Note from Professor Hubbard, (of the National Observatory, 

Washington city,) describing the instruments used by J. C. 
Fremont in making the astronomical observations in his 
third or last expedition, and the methods followed by Pro- 
fessor Hubbard in reducing them. 

II. A table of astronomical observations made by J. C. Fremont 

at the four principal stations determined in this third expe- 
dition, namely: 1. The mouth of Fontaine Qui Bouit, on the 
upper Arkansas. 2. Southeastern shore of the Great Salt 
lake. 3. Lassen’s farm. Deer creek, in the valley of the 
Sacramento. 4. The Three Buttes, valley of the Sacramento. 

III. A table of latitudes and longitudes, deduced from the fore- 
going *astronomical observations, calculated by Professor 

IV. Meteorological observations made in the Great Basin from 
December 16, 1843, to February 22, 1844. 

V. Meteorological observations made in the Sacramento and 

San Joaquin valleys from March 9 to April 11, 1844. 




Note from Professor Hubbard. 

The instruments employed in the determination of astronomical 
positions were — 

A portable transit instrument, by Young, of Philadelphia. 

A sextant, by Troughtt>n. 

A sextant, by Gambey, , 

Two pocket chronometers, (Nos. 438 and 443,) by Appleton. 

The transit instrument was made by Mr. William J. Young, of 
Philadelphia. The length of the telescope was 26 inches, the di- 
ameter of the object glass 2^ inches, and the axis 16 inches be- 
tween the shoulders. A circle was attached to the instrument, hav- 
ing a diameter of 11 inches, graduated to read to 10 seconds, and 
furnished with 3 verniers. The stand was of iron, and 4 feet in 
height. ^ 

Of the sextants, the one by Gambey, a new instrument, was 
most frequently used. The other, by Troughton, is the same that 
was carried in the previous exploration, and was now only used in 
observing at night, its divided arc being more readily illuminated 
than that of the other. The index errors of both were carefully 
and often determined, in order that any possible change of adjust- 
ment might be readily detected. 

The sextant observations consist of single altitudes of a star or 
the sun for time, and of Polaris or a star in the south, for latitude. 
They have been reduced in the usual manner, the formulae being 
too well known to need quoting. All the latitudes, and the several 
links of the chain of longitudes connecting the primary stations, 
depend upon the data thus furnished. In deducing the differences 
of longitude, in order to obviate, so far as possible, all error 
arising from eccentricity of the sextant or any like cause, compari- 
son has been made, when practicable, with observations in the 
same quarter of the heavens. 

The rates of the chronometers depend entirely upon sextant ob- 
servations. The comparison of these rates, determined at different 
times and under different circumstances of climate and usage, has 
shown that but one of* the chronometers (No. 438) was entitled to 
confidence. All differences of longitude from the principal sta- 
tions have therefore been determined by this one, and the results 
thus obtained are, as will hereafter be seen, highly satisfactory. 
The following are the observed rates, deduced, with but a single 
exception, from altitudes of the sunj the sign -f indicates a gaining 
rate : 

47 [ 148 ] 


Dates of observation. 

Rate of 443. 

Rate of 438. 

Bent’s fort 

1845, Aug. 3 to Aug. 15 


-f 2.020 


+ 3.386 

Camp at Salt lake 

“ Oct. 14 to Oct. 20 

-f- 0.883 


Laguna farm 

1846, Feb. 11 to Feb. 19 

— 1.754 


“ Mar. 30 to April 14 


“ April 14 to May 22 

*• * " 

^ 2.9f0 

The whole route has been divided into three distinct lines. .The 
first, commencing at Bent’s fort, extends to the camp of January 4, 
1846. The chronometers were then for a time subjected to a rapid, 
f travel over a rough road, and their rates were thereby changed. 

• The second line commences with the Laguna farm, between which 

• and the camp of January 4 no observations were made, and extends 
1 to the camp of March 30 — April 14, where the chronometers stopped, 
^ and another change of rate took place. The last line extends from 

this camp to that of June 7, after which date no more longitudes 
'5 were determined. 

^ By combining the above rates for the same line, giving to each a 
weight equivalent to the number of days elapsed between the ob- 
1 servations on which it depends, we get the following: 

Rates of chronometer JYo. 438. 


August 21, 1845 to January 4, 1846 + 3.363 

February 18, l846, to March 30, 1846 -f 2.175 

April 14, 1846, to June 7, 1846 + 2.980 

1 The transit instrument has given, by moon culminations, the lon- 
I gitudes of four camps with an accuracy much more than sufficient 
^ for ordinary geographical purposes. These camps being connected, 

• as we have already seen, by chronometric differences, an excellent 

• check of the whole work is Thus afforded. When we remember 
' that an error of one second of time in the observed transit of the 

moon induces an average error in the resulting longitude of the 

■ place of nearly seven minutes of arc, the agreement of these inde- 
pendent determinations, thus referred to the same point, is unex- 

’ pectedly great. The following is the method by which the transit 
' observations have been reduced: 

An estimated longitude for each of the camps in question, gave 
i the means of computing with sufficient accuracy the ‘‘the tabular 

■ mean time of transit” of the stars observed; their places in the hea- 
" vens being taken from the catalogue of the British Asso.ciation. 
I The “observed mean time of transit” was next to be obtained. 

Where the passage of the star over all the wires had been ob- 
served, the mean, reduced to the middle wire, gave at once the 
time sought. 'For the purpose of correcting imperfect transits, a 


[ 148 ] 

determination of the equatoreal intervals of the transit wires was 
necessary. These wires were* originally seven in number; their in- 
tervals are given below (I.) They were broken out after the 21st 
of October, 1845, and were replaced by a set of five (II,) which in 
their turn were broken, and the last set (III) inserted. Of these 
last, the second wire was broken before the commencement of ob- 
servations, and the reduction of the mean to the middle wire, of 
course includes the correction for the deficiency. The following, 
thtn, are the adopted intervals of the several wires and the mean 
of the whole from the middle wire: 


















Aug. 12 to Oct. 21 







—63. 18 


April 14 to April 23 







June 4 to June 6 





—35. 19 


From this table, the corrections to the mean of wires for imper- 
fect transits have been deduced by dividing the sum of the inter- 
vals for the wires observed by the product of the number of wires 
into the cosine of the star’s declination. In the single case of an 
imperfect transit of the moon, allowance has been made for the 
moon’s motion during the interval of time indicated by the correc- 

In deducing the instrumental and chronometer errors by com- 
parison of the observed and computed times of transit, the formula 
of M. Hansen has been employed. 

Denoting by L the latitude of the place. 

D the declination of the star. 

Z the zenith distance of the star, 
i the correction of instrument for error of level, 
n the correction of instrument for deviation at the pole, 
c the correction of instrument for error of collimation. 

Then the reduction of the observed transit to the meridian has 
the form 

i sec L — n sin Z sec L sec D-l-c sec D. 

The value of one division of the level tube accompanying the in- 
strument was unknown; and the instrument itself being in Califor- 
nia, this value could not be determined; but, knowing from the ob- 
serving-books that the axis was always kept as nearly horizontal 
as possible, we may neglect the constant term i sec L, or rather 
may include it in the' chronometer correction, and this without 
affecting the observed right ascensions. 

* Denote also by A the computed mean time of star’s transit. 

T the observed mean time of star’s transit. 
aT the correction of the chronometer. 

49 [ 148 ] 

Then every observation will give an equation of the following 

0=T+aT — A — sin Z sec L sec D n+sec D c. 

Or for brevity: 

0=T+aT — A — a n+b c. 

putting a and b for the co-efficients of n and c. By help of this 
»formulaj approximate values were obtained for n and c from two 
or more observations. These were generally taken on different 
days, and the equations furnished by them were only limited By 
the condition that the value of c should remain constant for these 
days, allowance being afterwards m^de for the error of this assump- 
tion. The values of n and c thus obtained, were substituted in the 
equation furnished by each observation. The mean of the chro- 
nometer corrections thus determined, being compared -with the in- 
dividual results, a new set of equations^of condition was arranged, 
of the following form: 

0=dAT — a. dn-j-b. dc. 

where dAT is the residual quantity obtained by the above com- 
parison. The solution of these differential equations by the method 
of least squares, gave the corrections of n and c, which, applied to 
the assumed, gave the most probable values. The assumed and 
adopted n and c are given below. The application of these final 
values to the original equations gave now the most probable chro- 
nometer correction, and this, applied to the corrected transit of the 
moon’s limb, gave the mean time of transit, and finally the right 

Table of assumed and adopted values of n and c. 


Assumed . 






1845, August 21,22 

October 20... 

1846, April 14 


June 4 


'Si. .. . 

-h 3V702 

+ 1.633 
-f 1.02 
1 + 0.574 

— 3V237 

“ +0.183 

+ 1.343 
+ 1.648 
5 + 0.574 
1 + 0.689 

— 3!237 

The following longitudes were assumed as the basis of the com- 
parison of the observed with the tabulated moon culminations: 

h. m. s. 

I. 1845, August 22 6 58 30 

II. 1845, October 20 7 29 31 

III. 1846, April 14 8 08 20 

IV. 1846, June 4. . 8 01 52 




By help of these, the moon’s and hourly motion Sit transit 
■were computed from the moon-culminating list of the Nautical 
Almanac, using fourth differences. A comparison of the computed 
M. with that observed, gave the numerator — the hourly motion being 
the denominator — of the fraction expressing the correction of the 
assumed longitudes. Those corrections^ and the resulting longi- 
tudes, are as follows: 

I. +0 15.52 

II. —1 15.65 

III. —0 37.54 

IV. -j-4 36.70 





Camps I and II, as well as III and IV, being connected by chro- 
nou.etric differences, it becomes important to test the results above 
given by a comparison of the two differences. We have then 


10 . 6 ' 

By Umars 29 29.83 

By chrd 29 33.83 

L--C —4.00 -f3.09 

The chronometric difference is adopted as the most exact — ap- 
portioning the errors of the other among the longitudes by lunars^ 
remembering that camp II is determined by a single culmination, 
while at each, of the others two were observed, we should now 
have, were the lunar tables correct, the best system of longitudes. 
Mr. S. C. Walker states that a correction of the present residual 
errors of the lunar tables, would increase all the longitudes depend-: 
ing upon moon culminations by about six seconds of time. Adding,- 
therefore, six seconds to the above corrected longitudes, we get 
finally, as the basis of the whole work, the following adopted longi-! 

I. Mouth of the Fontaine-qui-bouit^ 

August 22, 1844 ' 6 

II. Camp at Salt Lake, October 
14, 20 

III. Lassen’s farm. Deer creek, April 

14, 1846 8 

IV. Buttes Sacramento valley, June 

4, 1846 

Upon these and the sextant observations, is based the accompal 
nying table of latitudes and longitudes. ] 



5 . 

























[ 148 ] ' 52 

II . — Observations made by J. C. ' Fremont, with the transit instru- 

moir, reduced by Pro~ 


t) Piscium 

+ 14 33 














Moon’s II L.. . 

+ 13 51 










4- 19 11 









a Aquilae 

-f 8 28 

48. 0 








0 Ceti 

— 18 50 

3 0 









4- 88 29 









i Draconis, S. P. 

+ 114 31 






e' Arietis 

+ 19 11 






35 '.6 

55 !6 


ijj Arietis 

4- 17 01 









Moon’s II L.. . 

+ 15 30 











88 29 


1 .... 



46.8 i; 


0 Ursae Min. S.P. 

-f-105 13 









y' Eridani 

— 13 57 








0 Orionis 

— 8 23 







23.2, |i( 


a Leporis 

— 17 56 







09.7 li 


x’ Orionis 

+ 20 14 





! 53.5 


30.2: IS 


Orionig , 

Moon’s II !■.. . 

4- 20 08 







59.0 IS 


+ 19 41 







43.0 ij 


J Geminorum . . . 

-1- 20 47 







00.0 i; 


April 14 


a Virginis 

— 10 20 







..., 15 


0' Scorpii 

— 19 21 







Moon’s II L.. . 

— 19 05 







35 Draconis 

+ 76 59 




.... 0 


/i' Sagittarii 

— 21 05 






April 16 


' p Cassiopeoe,S.P. 

+123 22 






0 Cassiopeae,S.P. 

+121 42 







0 Corvi 

— 22 33 







a CassiopeoEjS.P. 

+124 19 







Polaris, S. P . . 

+ 91 30 






...| iso 


58 Ophiuclii 

— 21 36 






...i Ml] 


10 Sagittarii 

— 21 05 







Moon’s II L.. . 

— 18 29 






•1 |!i 

53 L^48] 

merit, determining the four ■principal positions mentioned in his me- 
fessor Hubbard. 



Mean of obs’d. 


Computed ■ 



‘ wires. 





'S ' 



H. M. S. 

, M. S. 

M. S. 

H. M. S. 

H. M. S. 

H. M. s. 

15 44 41.20 

+ 0 00.72 

— 0 05.29 

15 44 36.63 

J5 20 57.04 

0 23 39.59 



16 30 52.47 

+ 0 00.73 

— 0 05.09 

.16 30 48.11 

16 07 08.36 

0 23 39.75 


10 01 43.11 

+ 0 00.71 

— 0 05.64 

10 01 38.18 

9 37 58.02 

0 23 40.16 


14 53 30.29 

0 00.73 

— 0 07.61 

14 53 23.41 

14 29 45.08 

0 23 38.33 


15 21 25.06 

+ 0 26.32 

+ 0 14.54 

15 22 05.92 

14 58 25.22 

0 23 40.70 


16 05 28.75 

— 1 06.78 

— 0 03.23 

16 04 18.74 

15 40 34.95’ 

0 23 43.79 


16 26 57.83 

+ 0 00.73 

0 05.06 

16 26 53.. 50 

16 03 12.48 

0 23 41.02 


16 39 43.71 

0 00.73 

0 05.18 ’ 

16 39 3'9.26 

16 15 58.46 

0 23 40.80 

. 9 

17 10 45.67 

+ 0 00.73 

— 0 05.25 

17 10 41.15 



12 25 24.67 

—22 22.51 

— 1 13.08 

12 01 49.08 

11 06 38.20 

0 55 10.88 


13 47 46.14 

— 0 02.64 

+ 0 06.63 

13 47 50.13 

12 52 34.16 

0 55 15.97 


14 47 23.90 

+ 0 00.72 

— 0 03.82 

14 47 20.80 

13 52 08.92 

0 55 11.88 


’ IQ 03 29.37 

0 00.70 

0 03.63 

16 03 26.39 

, 15 08 13.81 

0 55 12.58 


16 22 13.20 

0 00.73 

0 03.95 

16 22 09.98 

15 26 58.70 

0 55 11.28 


I 16 41 32.73 

0 00.74 

0 03.39 

16 41 30.08 

15 46 14.99 

0 55 15.09 


, 16 51 01.83 

0 00.74 

0 03.39 

16 50 59.18 

15 55 44.04 

0 55 15.14 


17 30 44.81 

0 00.74 

0 03.39 

17 30 42.16 


17 51 02.77 

+ 0 00.74 

— 0 03.38 

17 51 00.13 

16 55 45.67 

0 55 14.46 



15 51 34.34 

— 0 00.76 

15 51 33.58 

11 44 45.72 

4 06 47.86 


,, 18 30 33.12 

0 01.02 

18 30 32.10 

14 23 43.80 ' 

4 06 48.30 


19 14 51.06 

— 0 01.02 

19 14 50.04 


, 20 28 36.90 

+ 1 20.78 

+ 0 09.70 

20 30 07.38 

16 23 19.30 

4 06 48.08 


, 20 33 15.64 

— 0 01.06 

20 38 14.58 

16 31 26.13 

4 06 48.45 


, 14 15 57.80 

— 0 16.56 

— 2 03.19 

14 13 38. «5 

10 06 43.24 

4 06 54.81 


, 14 29 59.80 

2 08.41 

14 27 51.39 

10 20 58.16 

4 06 53.23 


, 14 54 14.30 

1 05.42 

14 53 08.88 

10 46 15.59 

4 06 53.29 


, 15 00 35.82 

2 00.06 

14 53 35.76 

10 51 41.74 

4 06 54.02 


. 1 16 03 58.84 

, 33 48.98 

15 30 09.86 

11 23 18.86 

4 06 51.00 


, 20 01 17.50 


20 00 13.12 

15 53 17.58 

4 06 55.54 


, 20 31 32.88 

1 03.85 

20 30 d9.03 

16 23 34.37 

4 06 54 66 


21 09 57.46 

— 1 03.00 

21 08 54.46 









IV. V. VI. VII. 


0 , 








June 4 


y Virginis 

— 0 36 







Moon s I L , . . . 

— 8 24 








Polaris, S. P... 

+ 91 31 





a Virginis 

— 10 22 








0 Centauri 

— 41 21 








6 Centauri 

— 35 37 








( Lupi 

— 45 21 








5 UrssB Minoris . 

+ 76 23 



11 0 




d Ursas Minoris . 

+ 74 47 



16 8 



June 5 


6 Virginis 

— 4 43 




Polaris, S. P . . 

-1- 91 31 



50 !o 



a Virginis 

— 10 22 . 



67! 3 


42'. 7 



(0 Cassiope® S P 

4-112 45 





£ Cassiope®,S.P. 

-1-117 06 








— 41 21 







Moon I L 

— 12 11 








9 Centauri 

— 35 37 








X Virginis 

— 9 33 








X Virginis 

— 12 39 








5 Ursffi Minoris.. 

-1- 76 23 









— 15 24 








/? Ursaj Minoris.. 

+ 74 47 




* Instrument reversed between observations 41 and 42. 


[ 144 ] 

— Continued. 


Mean of obs’d. 






Mid. wire, j Meridian. 




[ 148 ] 56 

57 [ 148 ] 


^S83 2S;^g?SS8o§l?_^S§2Sg g8SS^Sg82 8^&5SS§5^S3S 

SS= 5 SSS 2 ==SSi§l 2 SSIS S22S2S2ISS2S2S2222SS 

SSSS35:;;?::^8^332i«S2§^ §^3^g33S2^2§S3SS??S5^2 
t;S?;=:28S8S§??8§3^="3S^S3 S2gSg^?^S;?&J58g&g5gSg2^ 
§S88ggggg8gg8SSgg^j3 83S;?;888S;;g88ggg222233 

I "ll I 

I - I 


[ 148 ] 58 













Mineral salt. — The mineral or rock salt, of which a specimen is 
placed in the Congress Library, was found in the place marked by 
Baron Humboldt in his map of New Spain, (northern half,) as de- 
rived from the journal of the missionary Father Escalante., ^o at- 
tempted, towards the close of the last century, to penetrate the 
unknown country from Santa Fe, of New Mexico, to J^onterey, of 
the Pacific ocean. The adventurous missionary does not seem to 
have got farther, and that was a great deal at that time, than 
the south end of the Utah lake, called Lake Timpanogos — a term 
signifying Rock river. Southeast of that lake is the chain of the 
Wah-satch mountains, constituting in that place the rim of the 
Great Basin. In this mountain, at the place where Humboldt has 
written “ Montagnes de Sel Gemme,’’ C^^ock Salt mountain,) this 
mineral is found. Its locality, the head waters of a small creek, 
tributary to the Utah lake, on its southeast, in thick strata of red 

The crystallized salt, formed from the spray of the lake on what- 
ever it touches — plants, shrubs, &c. — and of which a specimen is 
also in the Congress Library, was taken from the southeastern shore 
of the Great Salt lake. That specimen shows a formation of more 
than an inch thick of pure crystallized salt on the stem of a small 
twig, less than the size of a common goose quill. 

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aiMrti.'"'* n !'• »siz ' 






MAI' or 

DB'itei'l Mi IPBpi £AllllF'OKi1llA 

From thfl Sm-vevs of 
ijCMAiaiaiESi 'jfmiiMCDH'i' 

And oilifr Auihonues 

Washing'tfpi CiLj 1848. 

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